- ViacomCBS's Pluto TV revealed a brand refresh as part of its biggest-ever ad campaign for the free streaming video service, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer. The company plans to spend $30 million this year on a nationwide marketing push.
- The campaign includes a 30-second spot that will air on late-night TV, connected TV (CTV) and streaming audio takeovers, digital and social activations, in-theater advertising and out-of-home (OOH) media in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Minneapolis and Houston. Pluto TV is emphasizing its user-friendly features and no-cost service with the new tagline, "Drop In. It's Free."
- Pluto TV also introduced Project Venetia, an upgrade described as "the most significant product upgrade in years." Its updated interface has various ways to find shows and channels based on genres and favorite programming, and to order on-demand video. The new interface is live on the web and on Apple, Roku and Vizio devices, and will be available on Android and Amazon devices in the coming months, per the announcement.
Pluto TV aims to stand out in a video streaming market that has grown increasingly crowded as millions of consumers connect their TVs directly to the internet while canceling cable or satellite TV service. While subscription-based, ad-free services like Netflix are popular with consumers, there are also a growing number of free services that include ads to meet the needs of those who don't want to pay for a subscription or are looking for free content to complement an existing subscription to Netflix or another service. Its $30 million campaign may be the biggest ever for the service, but is dwarfed by rivals like Netflix, which spent $2.65 billion on marketing last year, per its year-end report.
To make its platform more appealing to advertisers — who are increasingly eyeing connected TV and streaming media as alternatives to broadcast and cable TV — Pluto TV needs to raise its public profile and boost its monthly average users (MAUs). Parent company ViacomCBS said Pluto TV's MAUs surged 75% to 22.4 million at the end of Q4 from a year earlier, per a quarterly report.
By touting its new interface and free service, Pluto TV can help to maintain that momentum and capture greater ad spend. Pluto TV has more than 250 channels of live TV and a separate tab for on-demand video. Parent company ViacomCBS supplies some of the programming, but most of it comes from TV networks, film studios and online publishers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
CTV media spending is forecast to reach $14.1 billion the U.S. by 2023, up from $6.94 billion last year, as advertisers work to reach audiences on streaming services, per researcher eMarketer. Roku is the most popular streaming device with about 44% of viewers, followed by Amazon Fire TV (33%), Google Chromecast (16%) and Apple TV (13%), and there is some overlap among users of multiple devices. Google's YouTube is estimated to have 198 million U.S. viewers, making it the most popular over-the-top (OTT) video service that runs advertising, followed by 75.8 million for Hulu's ad-supported tier and 7 million for Sling TV, eMarketer estimated.
Pluto TV's closest competitors are ad-supported services like Tubi and Xumo, which Comcast bought last year. However, consumers also can choose from paid subscription services like Netflix, Disney+ and AT&T's upcoming HBO Max. Disney's Hulu has ad-free and ad-supported tiers, and Comcast's NBCUniversal is launching the ad-supported Peacock in July. Amazon and Roku sell devices to stream video from the internet, while TV makers such as Samsung and Vizio have their own ad-supported streaming services.