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Roku: Streaming Has Surpassed Linear Viewing, Bigger Push for Shopping

Steve Anderson

Are you watching more video online lately? Have you made a purchase based on the urging of an online ad? If you have, you’re not alone, says a new study from Roku and The Harris Poll. In fact, the recent study notes that you’re part of a growing trend.

The Roku/ Harris Poll study found that online streaming has actually surpassed regular linear viewing, and by an increasing margin. The study found that U.S. consumers are now spending 78 minutes more streaming video than they are watching cable or broadcast video. Last year’s study found that parity had just barely been broken, with the average respondent watching just 12 minutes more. Now, it’s increased better than five-fold.

The study also took aim at shopping habits, particularly projected shopping for the upcoming holiday season. The latest study revealed that streaming video is even helping to shape online shopping as well. This latest study was conducted online Aug. 16-20 among 2,007 U.S. adults who reported plans to shop this holiday season. The news, overall, is surprisingly good and points to a brisk shopping season for 2021.

Here are some of the high points from the study:

Linear television in decline

The study found that 86 percent of consumers are streaming, and 1/3 have absolutely no traditional TV component whatsoever. The breakdown tends to fall along generational lines, including half of millennials and 44 percent of Gen Z respondents who have no traditional television at all. However, linear television is also on the decline with the Baby Boomers; 83 percent of boomer respondents noted it was “unlikely” that they would purchase new linear subscriptions or reactivate current ones.

Streaming ads increasingly effective

Just under half of all consumers found that they had seen an ad while streaming that led to them pause viewing and seek out the product. This includes 51 percent of parents, 63 percent of Hispanics, and 71 percent of millennials. Moreover, 41 percent have actually engaged with an interactive ad while streaming, and 38 percent reported an interest in being able to send themselves a coupon code.

Streaming hitting harder in marketing.

Five percent of consumers in the study expected to make purchases via a voice-activated platform. That number isn’t much right now, but has been on the rise every year since it became an option. Amazon’s CEO says the company's upcoming TV line will have voice controls for just this reason. Moreover, 55 percent reported that streaming ads proved an “inspiration” when it came to shopping. That’s not yet so much as word-of-mouth, but it does beat online product reviews.

Consumers planning to shop harder this Christmas

The average respondent expected to spend $937 on holiday purchases. That’s a record for the study, and reports note the millennials will be leading the way on this front, planning to spend over $1,000. One in three shoppers is looking to buy a big-ticket item (over $500) this season as well. Just to round it out, 57 percent plan to do their shopping mainly online.

All told, it’s looking like not only a solid holiday shopping season but also a great time to be in streaming. While the increased holiday spend is a good sign, that trend will need to spread to the community beyond the survey to be meaningful economically. Better yet, though, is the clear sign that streaming is having an impact with advertising. That encourages businesses to advertise on streaming video; not only is this where the consumers increasingly are, it’s also where they’re increasingly willing to spend.

In marketing, there’s a concept called latency, which is basically the time it takes for a customer to complete a journey. A customer comes in contact with a product, makes the decision to buy, and buys the product is a good example of that journey. Online shopping reduced customer latency substantially in some cases, and by putting both the initial point of contact and the place to buy online, latency should decline even further. The rise of streaming is great news for marketers, and marketers will likely put further support behind streaming, cementing its position as the next big thing in media.


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