As people get more and more clever about skipping ads, companies are also becoming more strategic about how — and when — to show them. Hulu and AT&T just discovered another way — by playing them while the content is paused.
That's right — both companies are planning to roll out "pause ads" next year. As binge watching on video streaming services gets more popular, Hulu and AT&T both think placing ads in-between pauses could be the future of advertising.
Did Hulu And AT&T Just Figure Out Advertising?
Speaking to Variety, Jeremy Gelfand, head of Hulu's advertising platforms, says pause ads could be a good fit as they'll come at a "natural break." When a user chooses to take a quick break, perhaps to stretch or go fetch some snacks from the fridge, "it's a natural break in the storytelling experience."
AT&T is looking to utilize the same strategy, presumably with its DirecTV and U-verse platforms.
"We know you're going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause," says Matt Van Houten, product VP at Xandr Media, AT&T's advertising division. "There's a lot of value in that experience." AT&T plans to launch pause ads next year as well.
Will Pause Ads Work?
The simple truth is no one likes to see an ad — more so when they're foisted into viewers so suddenly, interrupting the overall experience of watching. In fact, the lack of ads on Netflix and other video streaming services became one of, if not the strongest selling points for cord-cutters. However, it seems to be that removing ads is slowly becoming a tiered perk people have to pay extra for, such as the No Commercials offering on Hulu and YouTube Premium.
Viewers have a natural tendency to assume that streaming services offer zero or less ads than traditional options, which is why they gravitate toward them in the first place. Introducing ads while content is paused might not only aggravate them, but could also convince them to cut ties with a particular service altogether.
Yet at the same time, Hulu's subscriber count isn't as high as Netflix's or Amazon's, and as such, it needs to find other sources of income to fund its original shows, and there's no bigger moneymaker than advertising, unfortunately.
Thoughts about Hulu and AT&T's plans to introduce pause ads next year? As always, if you have anything to share, feel free to sound them off in the comments section below!