Shawn Lim
Jul 17, 2023

FAST on the rise in APAC: What advertisers should know

FAST (free ad-supported television) platforms offer a mix of scheduled programming and content that can be accessed on-demand. Campaign finds out how FAST is growing in APAC and how advertisers can tap into it.

FAST on the rise in APAC: What advertisers should know

The popularity of connected TV (CTV) streaming content in Asia continues to grow as consumers are now offered a broader range of content and pricing options than ever before, including free ad-supported television (FAST) content (ads on the likes of YouTube and Netflix prior to paid subscription).

FAST audiences are drawn in by different content, including many international and unique interest genres that often cannot be found elsewhere. In APAC, free-to-air linear TV has always been popular, and research by Magnite shows that viewers prefer ad-funded content when it comes to streaming. 

For example, 80% of streaming TV viewers in India prefer to watch ad-supported content versus subscribing to an ad-free platform for a monthly fee, which spells an opportunity for FAST channels to drive ad inventory scale.

Content owners and distributors also possess vast content libraries to create numerous FAST channels, and they have a low entry cost to create other audiences outside of previous distribution channels.

Gavin Buxton, managing director of Asia at Magnite, explains to Campaign that if the content is popular, they can uncover new audiences and scale advertising inventory opportunities.

“Media owners must consider a key factor for monetisation and user retention is creating a great ad experience, which will become essential for ongoing FAST success,” says Buxton.

“We found that too many ads or repetition of the same ads could cause streamers to abandon the stream, as 77% said they would stop watching a stream if there were too many ads. Using audience data to create a relevant ad experience for the user will be necessary.”

What can advertisers do with FAST?

From an advertiser perspective, FAST growth is set to continue because there is a lower entry barrier to advertising on FAST platforms, given that there is no need for high minimum spending compared to linear TV environments.

Programmatic activations help brands find the audiences they want most effectively and efficiently across multiple FAST offerings. This helps address fragmentation across multiple FAST channels and enables more brands to access this premium TV environment.

(L-R) Alexandra Lowes, Gavin Buxton, Siddharth Puri, Ashwin Nawin and Serge Matta

Alexandra Lowes, vice president of client engagement and growth for Asia Pacific at Finecast, explains to Campaign advanced audience data empowers advertisers to target specific audiences in premium broadcast environments.

Targeting specific audiences ensures advertisers can run highly efficient and effective campaigns, optimising their TV investments more granularly than linear TV. By utilising this advanced audience data, advertisers can guarantee that their messages reach the right people at the right time, increasing campaign success.

Advertisers can also activate campaigns in precise locations, even to a specific postcode. This means that CTV campaigns can be strategically targeted within fixed retail locations, commuter belts, and major cities. A localised approach allows advertisers to maximise the relevance of their ads and effectively reach their desired audience in specific geographic regions.

“CTV also provides enhanced creative opportunities not typically available on linear TV. Advertisers can adapt and optimise their campaigns faster than linear TV through dynamic creative optimisation,” says Lowes.

“This agility enables advertisers to respond quickly to market dynamics and consumer preferences. By embracing these creative possibilities, advertisers can create more engaging and impactful campaigns that resonate with their target audience.”

However, like any emerging channel, challenges exist in FAST, Serge Matta, head of commercial at LG Ad Solutions, tells Campaign. These challenges include fragmentation in consumer viewing behaviour, and the numerous partners many advertisers need to work with to benefit from CTV opportunities like measurement.

Advertisers are explicitly looking for a measurement solution that is unified and endorsed and can be used across the industry. Countries like Australia have made progress in this area with the introduction of Voz, but other regional markets are still finding it challenging.

Lowes points out that the increasing number of FAST solutions in the market can overwhelm advertisers. There are multiple opportunities to consider and a mix of terminology to navigate, including advertising-video-on-demand (AVOD), over-the-top (OTT), FAST and CTV.

Lowes says the industry needs to adopt a universal language that simplifies understanding and promotes growth in the category.

“Constant TV transformation also creates new questions for media strategists.  As CTV is a shared screen device, there are often questions regarding where this opportunity is best planned." 

Given its co-viewing nature, often cast to a living room, TV doesn’t perfectly map to individual digital devices or people-based planning principles. This has led to household planning approaches and broader, location-based planning similar to TV, but at a much more granular level to achieve addressability at scale in companion with TV plans.

All parties, including Samba TV, interviewed for this piece, agree that it is essential for advertisers to work with third-party measurement partners for detailed insights and independent validation.

“Partnerships with neutral, third-party measurement providers can help brands navigate the complexities of the CTV landscape, ensuring they have accurate and actionable insights to support their decisions and optimise for reach and frequency across platforms,” Ashwin Navin, chief executive officer and co-founder of Samba TV tells Campaign.

“While TV advertising offers the potential for reaching diverse audiences at scale, brands should maximise the value of their TV and digital advertising spend with partners who can de-duplicate these platforms and optimise them in real-time.”

With LG Ad Solutions’ guaranteed outcome-based media offerings, advertisers only pay for CTV ads when they meet specified performance goals independently validated using third-party data.

Campaigns can be guaranteed across connected TV ads or through cross-screen targeting on mobile devices and the web.

“The Guaranteed Outcomes program ensures brands that their native and CTV video ads running on LG smart TVs meet campaign goals across a broad range of KPIs – ranging from reach and frequency, demographics, video completion rates (VCR) in which buyers only pay for ads that are viewed to 100 % completion and conversion metrics,” explains Metta.

The quality of ad inventory

Ad inventory quality is table stakes for CTV, regardless of whether it's AVOD, FAST, OTT, and CTV, as advertisers need to have peace of mind knowing their ads will appear in a safe and regulated environment.

LG Ad Solutions recently partnered with adtech firm Tyroo to offer advertisers across APAC targeting capabilities and native ad inventory that delivers more relevant ad experiences for viewers and optimised media investments for advertisers.

“Our partnership with Tyroo provides them with native screen display and video inventory across many countries in Southeast Asia. These units are 100% viewable and the first thing consumers see when they turn on any LG TV globally,” says Metta.

Siddharth Puri, CEO and founder of Tyroo, explains that television provides a lean-back experience where viewers relax and immerse themselves in the content on their big screens at home.

For example, he explains that when viewers switch on the television, they enter a specific mindset, which is crucial to capture their attention and create a positive mood. Regardless of the channel they choose, whether news, music, or movies, the consumer's journey begins with that initial switch-on moment.

In terms of consumer experience and return on their investment, advertisers need to understand that viewers are excited about receiving content when they turn on the television. Understanding this behaviour allows advertisers to monetise their attention by offering ad formats that are integrated seamlessly into their personalised consumer experience.

Puri says non-intrusive ad formats that blend naturally with the content are essential, as viewers should be able to scroll, engage, and expand the ad experience within their watching content.

“As we transition from linear to smart TV, we must consider the native experience that users are accustomed to. Platforms like Facebook have shown us the value of native experiences, and this concept can be applied within the television world,” Puri tells Campaign.

“For example, LG has been conscious of this shift and is optimistic about creating a native experience on their Smart TVs. In addition to native feeds, specific apps in New Zealand are owned by LG and offer channel content. These apps follow a similar format to the OTT experience, allowing viewers to skip or interact with ads at the beginning or during the content. Consumers have widely accepted this format, and it aligns with their viewing habits.”

In addition, Puri says advertisers and marketers must consider the unique characteristics of television as a lean-back medium and leverage non-intrusive, native ad formats that enhance the consumer experience.

“By aligning with viewers' preferences and creating a seamless integration of ads into their content journey, brands can maximise the impact and effectiveness of their television advertising campaigns,” says Puri.

Interoperability and standardisation

While CTV has become integral to TV planning and buying, the challenges for FAST previously mentioned include fragmentation in consumer viewing behaviour and the numerous partners available to advertisers.

The IAB Tech Lab has created the Advanced TV Commit Group, which will lead the development of technology frameworks, technical standards, and market strategy to make every TV environment addressable.

The group aims to drive interoperability and standardisation across the entire TV ecosystem with inaugural members like Paramount, NBCUniversal, GroupM, Warner Bros. Discovery and Nielsen.

Lowes says Finecast recognises the importance of working closely with various stakeholders across the TV ecosystem, including broadcasters, content providers, advertisers, distributors, and clients.

She says the industry can collectively shape the standards and best practices needed to create a more seamless and effective CTV advertising ecosystem by fostering collaboration, sharing insights, and leveraging expertise.

“Through these collaborative efforts, we aim to establish a robust framework that benefits all stakeholders and drives the growth and success of CTV advertising. Regarding impact, the advancement of measurement and attribution standards will significantly benefit advertisers. Advertisers can access more accurate and reliable total TV metrics by implementing improved measurement practices,” says Lowes.

“This in turn, will facilitate better analysis and optimisation of campaign performance. With enhanced measurement capabilities, advertisers can allocate their ad spend more effectively, ensuring their campaigns deliver the desired return on investment. The continuous improvement of measurement and attribution standards is crucial for unlocking the full potential of TV advertising and driving long-term success in the industry.”

Buxton points out that Magnite is part of the Open Private Join Standards created for clean rooms by the IAB Tech Lab working group.

“Much of our Magnite Access suite focuses on accessibility, transparency and interoperability with data partners and clean rooms. With Magnite Access, any data can be onboarded and activated in any way necessary,” explains Buxton.

However, it should be noted that clean rooms alone cannot fulfil the demand for data interoperability among CTV advertisers due to publishers' data protection.

To achieve cross-publisher measurement, programmers must be willing to connect their data with other media companies. The effectiveness of clean rooms relies on making them easier to use and ensuring privacy and safety.

Matta says LG Ad Solutions believes not in walled gardens but gated communities.

“This approach allows us to provide our opt-in-based data to clients and partners that make sense. We are open to any industry initiative and will continue collaborating with them,” he explains.

Campaign Asia

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