Top 3 FAST monetization strategies to drive revenue

By Director - Product Management - November 16, 2023
FAST monetization

The holiday season is almost here – and with its arrival comes a surge in TV viewership. It’s also when brands look to reach consumers in the most effective and innovative ways possible. And for good reason. This year, US holiday retail and e-commerce sales are expected to reach $1.328 trillion.

The possibilities of realizing better ROIs increase as content owners can enhance their reach and revenue with a higher inflow of ads. Streaming, the most popular TV viewing option during the holidays, offers advertisers and content owners a unified sweet spot to meet the bottom line faster and, most importantly, deliver an exceptional experience to viewers. 

For content owners, streaming models like Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) and Free Ad-supported Streaming TV (FAST) offer prime opportunities to monetize content. Although AVOD and FAST might seem similar, there are subtle differences between the two. While FAST is like linear TV with fixed programming, schedules and advertising – providing a passive viewing experience, AVOD is an ad-supported, on-demand content distribution model that enables viewers to choose what they want to watch actively. 

FAST offers unique ad experience advantages over AVOD. With viewers typically taking about 10.5 minutes to decide what to watch, FAST helps overcome this content discovery challenge by letting viewers get straight into the viewing experience. It also allows content owners to show an ad or two in the same time frame without wasting the ad opportunity. Additionally, ad skipping is not a core part of the experience in FAST, improving ad completion possibilities.

Learn more: Offer a captivating holiday viewing experience with pop-up channels 

Amagi’s latest FAST report shows how FAST is taking center stage globally, with ad impressions and Hours-of-viewing (HOV) consistently on the rise. LG Ad Solutions’ latest survey also revealed that 57% of consumers prefer ads served on FAST, owing to its lean-back experience. 

We’re here to show you how content owners can elevate their monetization strategy on FAST. We’ll share how you can be sure you are showing the right ads to the right audience (without disrupting their overall viewing experience), tips on how to improve your ad-sales strategy, and how to shift focus to yield optimization — ultimately maximizing revenue.

1. Showing the right ad to the right audience in the right format



Gone are the days when the blanket approach to showing the same ad to a large audience worked. Yes, broadcast and Pay TV offered reach like no other medium, but showing ads of spring and summer apparel to someone in snowy mountains during the winter doesn't make sense anymore. With 92% of US households reachable through CTV advertising, delivering personalized ads at the right time to the right person while meeting your bottom line seems logical. Here's how to achieve it.

a. Hyper-personalization and contextual advertising

Whether it’s ads or experiences, consumers today expect personalization — nearly 81% of Gen Z and 57% of millennials prefer watching personalized ads, and about 51% of adults are bothered by irrelevant ads. 

The first step to delivering personalized ads is to identify the target audience and group them into meaningful cohorts based on age, behaviors, location, interests and more. A common misconception is personalization is either zero or one — everyone gets the same ad, or every person gets a highly personalized ad that could come across as an invasion of privacy. However, personalization is playing between the two extremes by delivering just enough relevant ads to keep the audience engaged while improving your monetization opportunities. This is where the addressability of CTV provides a great opportunity. 

Contextual advertising helps deliver contextually relevant ads to an audience already engaged in the content. This enhances the engagement rate as the ads are now relatable. During the holiday season, ads average a 50% spike in attention. 86% of viewers also do holiday shopping while watching TV when relevant ads are served, which further reinstates the importance of contextual advertising. 

Content and context metadata play a pivotal role in delivering this experience. Content metadata includes information on the title, series, genre, category and more. Context metadata includes contextual information about the frame or shot in the video. Together, they help decide the best possible genre of an ad and its placement within the video.

b. Showing the right in-stream linear ads

The next step after building your target audience is delivering the ads without latency. These ads can be placed before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll) or after (post-roll), and the streaming content can be varying lengths. With IAB’s guidelines in place, packaging the ad pod (a group of ads strategically placed in an ad break) so viewers stay engaged is critical. A few factors to consider – ad duration, which should be 6 seconds, 15 seconds, or 30 seconds, and the ad load (duration of ads per hour of content), which should be 5–8 minutes. Positioning of the ad also matters since the first ad in the pod gains the highest attention, and the shorter the pod, the higher the attention. 

During the holiday season, 95% of consumers watch holiday-themed content, starting with Thanksgiving and peaking on Christmas, and 97% watch with family and friends. This co-viewing experience offers increased opportunities to engage with multiple viewers simultaneously. Nailing it becomes crucial, and Server-side ad insertion (SSAI) helps deliver this experience seamlessly.

SSAI enables the delivery of personalized ads by integrating them into the video stream on the server side. It provides a high-quality viewing experience akin to cable TV. Amagi THUNDERSTORM, a Server-side Dynamic Ad Insertion (SSDAI) solution, helps deliver contextually targeted ads by offering a variety of features such as pod building, content localization and Per-user Playlist (PUP).

    • Pod building refers to grouping multiple ads into one ad break to maximize monetization. It's similar to traditional TV ads that play back-to-back during commercial breaks. 
    • Content localization customizes ads according to regional preferences, such as displaying ads for the nearest bakeshops to place orders for Christmas. 
    • Per-user playlist (PUP) creates personalized ad experiences at scale. PUP allows users to view customized ad playlists based on their viewing habits and metrics, such as age, behaviors, location and interests.

C. Incrementally reaching your audience through in-content ads

Advertising redundancy is often bothersome for viewers – repeatedly encountering the same advertisement across various platforms and devices can result in ad fatigue. As a content owner, in-content ads are your best bet to reach your audience non-intrusively — without increasing the pod length or disrupting the overall viewing experience. In-content ads give you an incremental opportunity to deliver personalized ads, resulting in a higher return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Graphics overlays, L-bands, picture-in-picture, dynamic brand insertion and interactive ads are popular in-content ad formats. Interactive ads, with QR codes placed on the bottom left, especially, gain greater engagement. Amagi THUNDERSTORM helps deliver these ad formats, enabling additional revenue generation apart from a traditional ad break. 


Learn more: In-content ads to beat CTV ad fatigue

Amagi client Gannett has seen L-bands, in particular, lead to success.

"We saw some huge success … doubling our viewership when we did the L-band," Gannett's Kristen Hayman told us. "The L-band was there so we can let people know what's next … if they're watching something and not as interested, they'll see what the lineup is more clearly."

Screenshot 2023-11-13 at 11.18.56 AM

As a content owner, using both in-stream video ads and in-content non-intrusive ads works best, offering a holistic ad experience. 

2. Pumping up your ad-sourcing strategy 

Now that you have your target audience and ad delivery solution in place, how do you ensure the right advertisers approach you and that your inventory generates optimal ROI? Programmatic advertising enables the automatic buying and selling of ads. It relies on machine learning algorithms and data-driven insights to deliver the right ad to the right audience at a cost that is a win-win for both content owners and advertisers.

Making programmatic a part of your strategy 

Amagi ADS PLUS, our advertising marketplace, connects premium CTV content owners with global programmatic and direct buyers, enabling the filling of most of the ad inventory. This marketplace connects you to the right advertisers at scale to unlock new premium demand or monetize impressions that may have otherwise gone unfilled. 

With ADS PLUS, you can:

  1. Reach buyers at scale: Get in touch with leading advertisers leveraging Amagi’s integrations and relationships. Get access to a huge breadth of demand including:
    1. Open marketplace buyers
    2. Amagi’s custom private marketplace packages
    3. Programmatic guaranteed connections
    4. Audience extension spending from Amagi content partners
  2. Maximize the value of every minute: Advanced contextual targeting and new ad formats help drive performance and enhance CPMs.
  3. Realize profitability on your terms: Get transparent reporting and hands-on operations support to maximize opportunity for your business.

Read more: Build a successful FAST business and prepare for the future

3.  Optimizing your yield effectively

Ad yield optimization involves tracking and analyzing advertising efforts and calibrating them to ensure optimal ROI. Metrics like unique views, average viewing time, sessions, total viewership, concurrent users and content load time help understand viewer behavior — which is crucial for the optimization process.  

However, it is not as straightforward as it sounds. FAST channels can face challenges in generating higher render rates (the percentage of ad impressions served to users out of the total number of ads received from ad servers) as well as win rates (number of bids sent vs. won) for advertisers. This can be because of two reasons:  

  1. Viewers tend to drop off during longer ad breaks, leading to no conversion of ads for the entire pod, resulting in lower render rates. 
  2. FAST channels that leverage several programmatic partners may call them all at once for every pod, resulting in low win rates for many partners or low render rates if more ads are sent than the pod time available.

Amagi THUNDERSTORM offers three unique ad pod strategies that help overcome these challenges and drive expected monetization.  

  1. Pod split: This path-breaking feature enables content owners to divide longer ad pods into shorter ones, leading to a substantial improvement in channel rendering rates. It splits ad requests into multiple sub-pod durations, optimizing ad delivery based on the number of active users viewing the ads.
  2. Mid-break join: This innovative feature enables ads to be served to new audiences joining during ad breaks – people who otherwise would be served slates. This helps maximize the total number of impressions and enhances the overall viewing experience for users. 
  3. Efficient Ad Tiering: When many demand partners are called at once to fill an ad pod (especially during peak holiday season viewing), some partners may not have the opportunity to compete, or too many ads may be returned for the pod. These scenarios can hurt the fill rate over time. Efficient Ad Tiering breaks the pod into multiple-tiered requests, so demand partners are only called when they can win. This feature works seamlessly with Amagi ADS PLUS to better optimize demand across the ADS PLUS marketplace. 

While most teams prepare for the holiday surge, there may be times when a few efforts fall through the cracks. Also, with 85% of viewers likely to look for additional deals after the holiday season, your monetization strategy should be well-equipped to handle the surge when the new year begins. This is when an experienced ad-ops team helps. 

Learn more about monetization and yield management: Listen in to our conversations at LA FAST

Amagi – Your one-stop destination for everything FAST

A solid monetization strategy decides whether you meet the expectations of your viewers and advertisers. With multiple moving parts, partnering with the right technology provider helps deliver a last-mile, flawless experience to those viewers and advertisers and expected ROIs to your organization. With a dedicated ad-ops team and a glass-to-glass suite of products and services, we can ensure you achieve enhanced reach and revenues. 

Whether you are new to the FAST journey or require a consultative team to complement your monetization strategy, Amagi can help. Get in touch with us today.

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