Ever since the DVR made its way into living rooms last decade, Madison Avenue has worked furiously to find new ways to keep commercials from being skipped or ignored.
Now they must identify even more aggressive methods of getting audiences to pay attention to their pitches.
TV viewers may dislike commercial breaks, but Madison Avenue soon hopes to get them to watch ads during a very different kind of interruption. Consumers have more power these days to avoid ads that get in the way of the viewing, but maybe — just maybe — they will show interest in commercials that come on screen during interludes of their own choosing from long streaming sessions or on-demand playback.
Hulu intends to unveil what it calls “pause ads” that carries a word from a sponsor. When a user chooses to stretch, or get a snack, he says, “it’s a natural break in the storytelling experience.”
AT&T also has hopes to use the pause to lend new momentum to TV advertising. The company, which owns DirecTV and U-verse, expects to launch technology next year that puts a full-motion video on a screen when a user decides to take a respite.
Many consumers think they can escape the usual barrage of TV pitches with new streaming-video services that run only a few ads, and sometimes even none. That notion has been bolstered in recent months by efforts from companies like NBCUniversal, which has experimented with running fewer ads in primetime.
But TV watchers may have to recalibrate their view. Media companies don’t want to lose the billions of dollars advertisers pay them each year. And consumers would have to submit to much higher prices for access to their favorite shows if commercials didn’t play some part in the overall experience. Indeed, Hulu offers its service at a higher price if customers want to avoid commercials completely.
The plans for pauses suggest new power in the media industry could go to those outlets that can establish a more direct tie to viewers.
Are viewers ready for a pause in viewing that becomes a moment of selling? “In the end, consumers will vote with their feet,” says Brian Sheehan, a professor of advertising at Syracuse University’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communications. Or perhaps their remotes. And definitely their wallets.
Source: Steinberg, B. (2018, December 4). TV’s Next Commercial Break Might Be the Pause in Your Binge (EXCLUSIVE). Variety.
Editor’s Note: Are new commercial formats emerging