Streaming ads are coming, but problems could also arise

Streaming, like HBO before it, freed creators from the moralizing of advertisers. If advertising enters the ecosystem, self-censorship could follow.

At the June 1 conference of the National Association of Television Program Executives in Hollywood, a college professor asked what TV executives didn’t want. During a panel he moderated that promised to look “under the hood” of streaming, Jeffrey Cole, founder and director of USC Annenberg School’s Center for the Digital Future, posed the question that has the power to celebrate the golden age of the redesigning television: “ How does power [streamers] working in this advertiser ecosystem where advertisers are afraid to offend and streaming content often offends?”

We all remember the joy of those first ad-free Netflix experiences. Part of that came from watching shows that no longer distorted their beats to match commercial breaks; More importantly, the scripts didn’t self-censor for fear of what advertisers might think — because there were no advertisers. Now, streamers have declared ad dollars essential to the long-term health of their platforms.

Unlike broadcasting, you don’t have to watch ads on a streamer. an ad-supported service or tier is just one (cheaper) option. However, while the programming is (technologically) platform agnostic, the platforms’ potential advertisers are not. Vikrant Mathur, co-founder of Future Today, which curates and connects advertisers with AVOD channels, told the audience at the Behind the Scenes panel that some clients require their streaming ads to only show G or PG rated movies – but all advertisers are demanding more data about the “context” of the programming.

“You have a real decline in audience and an inability to target linear media, you have a huge and growing audience on FAST, on AVOD and the dual supported services,” said Kevin Mayer, director of Candle Media, of its recent acquisitions Reese owns Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, Moonbug and ATTN, among others. “So there is a huge flood of advertising [streaming] because advertisers who still want to put very high quality premium videos in an ad but want to be targeted. I think you will see a lot of energy behind this model. It makes a lot of sense.”

Advertisers and audiences agree and are already voting with their feet (especially if you have cash in your sock). According to Insider Intelligence, less than half of US households will pay for linear TV next year, down 10 points from 2020. Meanwhile, domestic video ad spending is estimated at US$76.20 billion, US$8 billion more than is spent on TV advertising.

The great migration of media buyers to streaming won’t increase until Netflix and Disney+ roll out their own cheaper, ad-supported tiers. Until then, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ will be the only major streaming services without an ad-supported option, though Amazon has its FAST/AVOD service Freevee.

Back then – meaning earlier this year – SVOD platforms had a boss: the user. That is no longer the case and perhaps never will be again. However, no one in the NATPE conference rooms at the W Hollywood Hotel was willing to discuss how this might affect the content itself. Eight decades of broadcast history suggest this will be the case. So is the observer effect, the psychological phenomenon where people change their behavior because they are aware of the presence of an observer. The advertisers are here and watching.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/06/ads-on-streaming-1234730152/ Streaming ads are coming, but problems could also arise

Lindsay Lowe

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