Skippable Ads Are a Good Thing

Marco Bertozzi is executive managing director, EMEA for VivaKi. Follow him on Twitter @m_bertozzi or visit his blog: www.mbertozzi.com.

The beginning of the end of being forced to sit through ads is already underway. Google is building a business on the back of skippable ads. The concept of skipping ads you do not want to watch is entering our ecosystem like water pouring through a leaking dam. No matter how you try and plug the leak, forced ad viewing will be a thing of the past. And yes, it’s coming to TV.

This is a behavior shift. We have all gotten used to fast-forwarding through ads on our DVRs. Companies like Dish, with its Hopper product, are making it a central offering. Even online apps usually have a premium or ad-subsidized version. Other companies have rolled out account-based solutions where users can pay to skip ads.

Consumer opinion is paramount. This is not about not watching ads; it is about watching ads that are relevant and entertaining. As viewers get used to skipping ads and companies offer this as an option in new mediums, consumers will turn there first. The Dish example in the U.S. will be an interesting one to follow. When PVRs were first launched, the whole industry was nervous about their implications. But we coped. Google’s skippable ads are a fantastic model, with incredible CPMs on ads that are watched through to the end. It works for them. Advertisers also like the idea of paying for real user viewership. The challenge, therefore, is for advertising to improve (please, no more perfume ads following the same old, superficial format) and for the delivery mechanism to improve.

This is all fine for online, but what about for TV? No way! Well, in case anyone has missed it, TV is changing. The mechanisms through which we watch TV are changing, and the way content is being consumed and distributed is changing, too. Addressable advertising across multiple devices is already underway in alpha and beta tests. Ads will become ad-served, which will allow better targeting, and if targeting improves, the response rate will be higher. Consumers will appreciate the relevance. If we can do this well, then who is to say that the Google business model will not suddenly look attractive to broadcasters?

We will question this idea of extra value in TV, which is code for wastage, as opposed to actually buying the audience we want. An Audience On Demand offering could quickly be applicable in TV. If we can combine ad-serving technology with proper targeting and measurement, and sprinkle some consumer boredom with relevant advertising, we will be well underway to a world where we tell our children, “Yes, they made us sit through five pre-roll ads before we were allowed to see the program we wanted to watch — and at a time dictated by them!” What a crazy notion.

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