Make Room on the Couch—DTC Brands Want to Connect on Streaming Sites

And they’re not leaving traditional television either

Major brands discuss the increase of DTC brand clients in the last year at an Adweek panel. - Credit by Sean T. Smith for Adweek
Headshot of Ryan Barwick

It seems only natural that direct-to-consumer brands, so disruptive in their own industries, would find a home on the streaming sites that have upended traditional, linear television.

Just ask Michaela Giovengo, Hulu’s director of performance marketing sales, who told streaming editor Kelsey Sutton at Adweek’s DTC Meets ATV: Advanced TV Summit panel on Wednesday that the streaming service has seen its DTC clients double from 2018 to 2019.

“We’ve seen 85% revenue growth in this vertical,” Giovengo said. “DTC brands are very savvy and very nimble at being able to get in front of a customer.”

Streaming services like Hulu can provide the personalization of digital marketing and the scale and safety of traditional television marketing. According to Giovengo, it’s a natural evolution for DTC brands “who have an abundance amount of data about their customers and they can marry that with the OTT environment.”

“Linear services are losing subscriptions to services like Hulu and the rest. When we see that trend we know we need to be where the eyeballs are, where the viewers are,” said Will Flaherty, vice president of growth for men’s healthcare DTC brand Ro.

When Birchbox, an online cosmetics retailer, ran an awareness campaign on linear television and Hulu, they found that Hulu was about 400% more efficient by cost per visit, while only 30% more expensive than paid social.

“This was really surprising for us,” said Amanda Tolleson, Birchbox’s chief customer officer. “For awareness and storytelling … it’s been effective.”

But just because the brands are using streaming platforms doesn’t mean the creative is changing.

“What we’re running on Hulu is also what we’re running on linear,” Tolleson said.

Flaherty agreed.

“It’s less of a streaming versus linear, but more of asking, ‘Who’s the audience? Where’s the audience concentrated? Does that map to the creative we’re running?'” he said. “We’re trying to be more thoughtful in making sure we are reaching a broader set of people … and we’re not wasting impressions.”

And it’s not a zero-sum game.

“We will put investment wherever we think it’s profitable. TV is still a valuable channel for us. It still reaches people that are honestly harder to reach on Instagram or Facebook,” Flaherty said. “But, we find that streaming serves as a great way to address those that aren’t [watching] television. … Make sure you’re going after people, not impressions.”


@RyanBarwick ryan.barwick@adweek.com Ryan is a brand reporter covering travel, mobility and sports marketing.
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