Events: ‘Stepping Into The Stream’, industry experts weigh in on the state of OTT advertising in the Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – adobo magazine teamed with Kantar Millward Brown and The Trade Desk to present an in-depth panel discussion on the state of advertising in the age of OTT (over the top) media. This webinar is part of a sequence of virtual events tackling the OTT landscape in the Philippines, with an upcoming live webinar on March 24, 2021, 3PM PHT—registration is free.

Built around an exclusive first-look at the results of a recent study on the growth of OTT platforms and consumption in the country, the guests were in for an eye-opening afternoon. Panelists for the day were Kantar Millward Brown Director Chito Jusi, Viu Philippines Country Head Arianne Kader-Cu, and Trade Desk SVP of Sales for SEA and ANZ Mitch Waters.

The discussion served as an introduction, not just on the incredible growth seen by OTT in the last two years, but the new opportunities for brands to reach their intended audiences. (For information on how to join a similar on March 24, please see details at the bottom of this article)


Inquirer Editor Pam Pastor serving as master of ceremonies, fielding questions all throughout from the handpicked audience of marketing officers, strategy planners, brand and agency executives. As guests tucked into their refreshments, courtesy of Via Mare, Served Manila, and Bahn Mi coffee, the stage was set for a purposeful morning of learning via Zoom call.

Waters kicked things off, clarifying the definition of OTT as broadcast-quality digital content, entirely separate from user-generated content, before delving into why The Trade Desk had commissioned the Kantar study. The main reasons, he shared, were the inconsistencies in terminology and languages across Southeast Asian markets, coupled with most media buying taking place from a regional hub. What was needed was a reliable, country-specific study that accurately reflected OTT usage in the market.

“No one’s had a view of what the opportunity and scale is, across all the players in Southeast Asia for OTT in Southeast Asia…we felt we’d do the region a service by commissioning this research to start uncovering some of the answers.”

With the foundation set, Jusi dug into the meat of the study, revealing that, while consumption has definitely gone up as a result of COVID-19-related lockdowns over the last year, it could also be attributed to factors such as an increase in affordable internet access and telco OTT/data bundles. In the Philippines, the closure of ABS-CBN last year was a significant factor, with former broadcast/free-to-air viewers switching over to OTT. According to Jusi, Filipinos have now achieved 34% penetration, racking up over 2 billion hours of OTT viewing per month, with 32% watching up to four hours a day, and over 72% viewing on more than one platform. Incredibly, the study revealed that Filipinos were more likely to view ads if order to access premium OTT content.

It was this insight that Kader-Cu leveraged when introducing VIU to the Philippines, designing a free-to-watch model that resulted in the platform becoming the country’s leading Asian content provider in a relatively short time. “Filipinos were used to pirating, they were not paying for content at that time, and they weren’t just watching Hollywood (content). So when we launched, not only did we launch with that (Asian) content set; we changed our entire product, focusing on a free advertising layer, giving them the product and how they were used to watching it. We saw the acceptability (of ad-powered content) right away, and we were 3-4 years ahead of the game.”

Waters backed up Kader-Cu, as Trade Desk’s research revealed that, “Completion rates are phenomenal. While the CPMs can be higher on the whole compared to some UGC platforms, completion rate is significantly more generous, almost up the 900th percentile, so cost per click of viewers can be far cheaper than what we see on UGC.

Furthermore, said Waters, more than half of viewers recall OTT ads, owing to its being a premium, uncluttered arena. He also cited the high production values of many ads, which complemented the content it was being presented alongside, as opposed, say, advertising next to UGC content. Furthermore, as opposed to free-to-air, OTT, being digital, advertisers have more flexibility to adapt to a developing situation, allowing brands to respond quicker than they would on traditional channels.

Indeed, said Jusi, Pinoys’ acceptance of ads in their OTT viewing actually made the Philippines the most attractive market for OTT advertisers in the region when overall usage, ad response, connectivity, and consumer profiles were taken into account. “The Philippines ranks very high across these five areas (with the exception of connectivity, but that will probably improve, moving forward, anyway). If you were an advertiser, you would see that the Philippines is a great market to reach your target audiences, and if you’re a local marketer, this is an affirmation.”

“One of the benefits of how TV has evolved in our region,” said Waters, “is how everything we know and love that is standard on mobile (targeting, etc.) exists on OTT. So first-party data, third party data runs just as powerful as if you were running inline video or pre-roll video on a webpage, so all the standard targeting you do in a regular campaign translates real easily – if you have the mobile device ID, we can do really sophisticated stuff with it.”

Summing up the session, Waters pointed out the rise of OTT wasn’t an indication of traditional TV’s demise; it was just a matter of determining which material would be most effective on which platform, whether it was online or on the air. Kader-Cu affirmed this, citing the abundance of Korean drama-inspired ads that found their way to her platform that weren’t necessarily reflective of their brands’ on-air materials.

“The opportunity for OTT, said Waters, “sits in thinking about where your content is aligned, because you’ve spent all that money in building brand perception and the loyalty of your consumers – you want to align that with premium content. People go there for very specific reasons, for appointment viewing, so they don’t want to skip an ad and risk missing out on content.”

Jusi was more to the point, summing up the session by encouraging the audience to, “Just follow the eyeballs. Your audience is migrating from traditional media to digital media, and if that’s where your audience is, that’s where your consumers are, and that’s where you want to engage with them.”


If you’d like to learn more about the amazing world of OTT, join adobo Magazine and Trade Desk’s upcoming two-part deep dive into the State of Connected TV in the Philippines and how to use data-powered storytelling to your brand’s advantage.

Click here for more information and sign-up details!


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