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What Are Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) Streaming Services?

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What Are Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) Streaming Services?

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By Emily Sullivan

In a world saturated with streaming options, Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels are carving out a unique space, bridging the gap between traditional linear TV and modern on-demand viewing. According to an eMarketer forecast, nearly a third of the U.S. population will be free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) viewers by 2027, accounting for a total of 114.5 million viewers. A large part of that is because viewers get the best of both worlds – curated content with the convenience of streaming, all while keeping it free through targeted advertising.

Curious about how FAST channels work and which of these streaming platforms are making waves? In this post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of FAST Channels, drawing parallels with linear TV and spotlighting rising platforms that are reshaping our television experience. 

What Are FAST Channels?

Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels have become the latest buzz in the world of OTT advertising, offering viewers a unique blend of the familiar and the modern. Imagine a streaming service that mirrors the cable or traditional TV experience but comes with the perks of being free, accessible on your mobile device, and interspersed with commercial breaks.

Unlike subscription-based platforms like Hulu or Netflix, FAST channels follow a model where users can enjoy a variety of content without any upfront costs, relying on targeted advertising to fund the service. The distinguishing factor is the presentation – content is organized into channels, reminiscent of the linear TV approach. Users tune in to pre-set lineups, enjoying a mix of TV shows, movies, and news with scheduled ad breaks.

Diverse Content Offerings: TV Shows, Movies, and News

FAST channels bring a variety of content to viewers, ranging from TV shows and movies to news broadcasts. The majority of offerings might not boast blockbuster quality, often featuring older shows and films. However, the landscape is evolving, with more significant studios leasing content to FAST providers, expanding the variety and quality of available shows.

Accessing FAST Channels: Anytime, Anywhere

One of the appeals of FAST channels lies in their accessibility. These platforms usually exist as websites or apps, making them compatible with a wide array of devices. Whether you prefer watching on your mobile device, connected TV, streaming dongle, or computer, the flexibility is at your fingertips. While some FAST channels are exclusive to specific devices, others, like Tubi, can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

Example: Samsung TV Plus, exclusive to Samsung Smart TVs, contrasts with Tubi, which is accessible across devices with a simple app download.

Why Consumers Love FAST Channels

The love for FAST channels stems from their key attributes – they are free, often featuring shows viewers are already familiar with, and yet offer enough variety to help users discover new content. Another bonus is that, compared to many linear providers, the frequency of ads on FAST channels tends to be less intrusive, creating a more enjoyable viewing experience.

The Rapid Growth of FAST Channels

As the streaming advertising landscape continues to evolve, the growth of FAST channels is undeniable. With a model that aligns with changing consumer preferences and an increasing number of providers entering the scene, FAST channels are set to redefine how we consume content in the future.

What Are Free Ad Supported TV FAST Streaming Services
Source: eMarketer

FAST vs. AVOD

In the world of streaming, understanding the distinctions between Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) and Ad-Supported Video on Demand (AVOD) is crucial. Let’s dive into the intricacies of each and see how they differ.

Understanding AVOD: Ad-Supported Video on Demand

Ad-Supported Video on Demand (AVOD) is a streaming model where users can pick and choose content from a library, enjoying it on-demand at their convenience. Unlike traditional cable or FAST channels, AVOD platforms give users the freedom to decide what to watch and when to watch it, all while being supported by advertisements.

FAST Channels: More Than Just On-Demand

On the flip side, Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels bring a different flavor to the streaming experience. Rather than allowing users to handpick content on demand, FAST channels emulate the linear TV model. Users tune into specific channels featuring predetermined lineups, creating a more “channel-surfing” experience.

The Hybrid Model: Where FAST and AVOD Converge

Interestingly, some FAST streaming services seamlessly blend into the realm of Ad-Supported Video on Demand. Take Tubi, for instance. Tubi not only offers a live channel experience where viewers tune in to a continuous feed, but it also provides on-demand content, allowing users to select what they want to watch.

For example, Tubi features a dedicated channel offering a nonstop stream of old episodes of The Masked Singer, catering to those who enjoy a scheduled lineup but also want the freedom to choose specific content.

While the line between FAST and AVOD can blur with hybrid models, the key distinction lies in the level of control viewers have over their content selection. Whether you prefer the curated lineup of a live channel or the flexibility of on-demand content, the streaming landscape has options tailored to your preferences. 

Examples of Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) Channels 

There are a wide variety of FAST Channels available. Let’s dive into a few of the most popular and what they offer viewers. 

1. Tubi

Tubi is a leading FAST platform, offering a diverse range of movies and TV shows for free with ad support. Acquired by Fox Corporation, Tubi has an extensive library, including popular titles, on-demand and classic content, making it a go-to for those seeking a wide variety without the subscription fee.

2. Pluto TV

Acquired by ViacomCBS, Pluto TV is a versatile FAST service with a unique twist. It provides a live TV-like experience, including on-demand viewing, organizing content into channels. With a broad range of genres and partnerships with major studios, Pluto TV offers an extensive array of free, ad-supported programming.

3. Roku Channel

Roku Channel, developed by the streaming device giant Roku, serves as a hub for various content. Offering a mix of movies, TV shows, and live news, it provides users with a seamless streaming experience on Roku devices, making it an attractive choice for Roku users seeking free, ad-supported content.

4. Freevee

Freevee is  relatively new to the FAST landscape, offering a variety of channels with a focus on live linear programming. Positioned as a cost-effective alternative to traditional cable, Freevee delivers a curated selection of channels with ad support.

5. Samsung TV Plus

Samsung TV Plus, a service tied to Samsung Smart TVs, provides users with free access to live and on-demand content. With a mix of news, entertainment, and sports channels, Samsung TV Plus enhances the Smart TV experience for Samsung device users, supported by targeted advertising.

6. Google TV

Google TV incorporates a mix of both subscription and ad-supported content. While its subscription services compete with platforms like Netflix, the ad-supported side offers free movies and shows, complemented by personalized recommendations based on user preferences.

7. LG Channels

Exclusively available on LG Smart TVs, LG Channels provides users with a range of ad-supported channels spanning various genres. As part of the webOS platform, it enhances the LG TV viewing experience with a curated selection of free content.

8. Vizio WatchFree+

Vizio WatchFree+ is a FAST service embedded in Vizio SmartCast TVs, offering a mix of live channels and on-demand content. With a focus on providing a cable-like experience without the subscription cost, Vizio WatchFree+ is a noteworthy addition to the FAST lineup.

9. Xumo Play

Xumo Play offers a broad selection of live and on-demand content across genres. Acquired by Comcast, Xumo Play distinguishes itself with an easy-to-navigate interface and partnerships with major networks, providing users with an expansive range of free, ad-supported programming.

10. Vudu

Known for its digital video rental and purchase service, Vudu also features a free, ad-supported section. Offering a mix of movies and TV shows, Vudu’s ad-supported content provides users with additional options for streaming without a subscription fee.

What Do Marketers Need to Know About FAST?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of content consumption, advertising on Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) channels emerges as a strategic avenue for marketers to connect with audiences in novel ways. Here’s a breakdown of why marketers should pay attention to FAST and what sets it apart:

Reach New Audiences

FAST channels present a unique opportunity for marketers to expand their reach and engage with audiences beyond traditional advertising channels. As a rising method of content consumption, FAST platforms attract diverse viewership, helping marketers tap into new demographics and markets.

Exploring Market Size

The market size of FAST TV is on a significant upward trajectory. With millions of users gravitating towards these platforms, marketers have the potential to reach a vast and growing audience. As budget-conscious consumers seek alternatives to rising subscription costs, FAST becomes an attractive space for advertisers to connect with viewers.

“The rise of FAST channels is undeniable. Nielsen’s latest data shows that Tubi alone has become larger in terms of audience time than premium networks such as Max and Paramount+; Tubi, Roku Channel, and Pluto combined outpace even Prime Video or Hulu. The model is working for viewers who want cheaper alternatives, for advertisers who want breadth of targeting and reach, and for platforms looking to challenge the incumbents. I expect that 2024 will see continued growth for these platforms, especially in terms of advertiser dollars, as this inventory can be a critical element of a successful full funnel integrated marketing campaign.”

Harry Browne, VP, Client Strategy & Analytics at Tinuiti 

Targeting Niche Viewers

One of the unique strengths of advertising on FAST channels lies in the ability to target niche audiences with precision. Channels like the Gordon Ramsay or Top Gear channel on Tubi provide a tailored environment for marketers to showcase products and services directly related to the content. This laser-focused approach allows marketers to speak directly to their audience, enhancing the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Customizability

FAST channels offer marketers a customizable advertising experience, where prices and placements can vary significantly. This flexibility stands in contrast to the more rigid structures of traditional cable ad packages. The ability to tailor campaigns to specific budgets and target audiences allows marketers to optimize their strategies for maximum impact.

Rising Method of Content Consumption

As consumers increasingly seek cost-effective alternatives, FAST channels are witnessing a surge in popularity. Marketers should recognize this shift in content consumption patterns, adapting their strategies to align with the preferences of a growing audience on these platforms. By staying ahead of this trend, marketers can position their brands at the forefront of a changing media landscape.

Low Barrier to Entry

FAST platforms eliminate barriers to entry, making it easier for marketers to attract viewers without hefty customer acquisition and retention costs. This accessibility ensures that marketing budgets can be allocated more efficiently, focusing on creating compelling content and messaging rather than overcoming hurdles to entry.

Conclusion

Advertising on FAST channels is not just about embracing a trend; it’s about seizing a dynamic opportunity to engage with audiences in innovative ways. The benefits of expanded reach, customizable options, and the ability to connect with niche viewers make FAST a valuable addition to any marketer’s strategy. Interested in learning more about FAST Channels? Contact us today or check out our Streaming Services page for more information.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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