People seem to watch more TV than ever. But they don’t watch it the same way they used to. The days of tuning into one of the big networks or even clicking on a cake channel are quickly going the way of listening to radio dramas. Instead, people are streaming their programs, and that creates a challenge for HVAC contractors trying to market to potential customers.

People think of so-called cord cutting as something for young people, so HVAC contractors may believe they can worry about these customers later. Young consumers make up a growing share of homeowners, though. What’s more, more consumers of all ages opt to get most or all of their TV content via the Internet, said Jeannie Steinbuch, digital marketing department manager at Change HVAC.

That’s why HVAC contractors should consider “over the top” or OTT marketing. This is the buzzword for buying ads on services such as Hulu or Crackle. These are ad-supported streaming services that are either discounted or free to watch. These options are popular with many consumers, Steinbuch said.

Buying ads on these services works somewhat differently than cable or other TV buys. Advertisers buy their spots directly from the providers. Roku, the device that makes streaming possible for many TVs, also sells ads for some services. These providers offer a certain number of spots in a given market. That means that in a large urban market, a national brand might be a large share of the available spots, but there is still plenty left for smaller players such as HVAC contractors.

“We’re spending less money, but we’re getting in front of more eyes.”
Jeannie Steinbuch
Digital marketing department manager , Change HVAC

More Eyeballs for the Dollar

The good news is that ad buyers can target the audience they want. Steinbuch uses the example of a community that was developed a certain number of years ago. Many of these homeowners will be in the market for a replacement HVAC unit.

“We’re reaching the same audience, but we’re doing it in a targeted way,” Steinbuch said. “We’re spending less money, but we’re getting in front of more eyes.”

The main goal is supporting a brand, Steinbuch said. HVAC contractors shouldn’t expect an immediate response. It also helps with attracting new employees.

“Young people want to know that you’re putting your company culture out there,” she said.

The advertisers pay the streaming providers for views. That doesn’t mean the customers necessarily watch them to the end. Of course, it’s always been unknown if people watch traditional TV ads at all.

Streaming providers are always offering new ways to target consumers, Steinbuch said. Like all tech companies, they have considerable information about consumers’ habits and interests. HVAC contractors need to customize their ads to match this data.


Opportunities Abound

The opportunities for advertising on streaming services continues to grow. Disney recently announced a discounted versions of its Disney+ service that includes ads. Some may consider only worthwhile for toy companies and others that target children and their families. But nearly half of the households with a Disney+ subscription don’t have children. The platform offers plenty for older viewers, such as the recent Beatles documentary.

Meanwhile, traditional cable advertising becomes less and less attractive. Steinbuch said cable providers are responding to their diminishing outlook by trying to make as much money as they can now. This means charging more and more for ads that reach fewer and fewer people.

What’s the next frontier? Streaming services are starting to venture into video game subscriptions. This could prove an even bigger advertising opportunity. This is especially true for advertisers that want to reach young men. Several surveys show that gamers are open to ad placement in their games if they keep them free or at least make them less expensive.