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Playing With Captive Eyeballs: Can Forced Streaming Ads Win Over an Audience Raised on Skipping?

“With great power comes great responsibility. - Uncle Ben Parker”  - Rich Knopke*

This is the best time in 25 years for advertising on "TV" for actually hitting captive eyeballs. 

Since the invention of the DVR, consumers have been able to fast forward through commercials or subscribe to streaming services without commercials altogether. 

Conversely, this is the worst time to be a consumer watching TV with media and tech companies reversing 25 years of classical conditioning making consumers pay for streaming services with forced commercial viewing. 

Sure, it’s a choice where you can pay more for a subscription without ads but that’s not what media companies are hoping we’ll do.  We’re worth more to them in their advertising tier.

The big question is how younger generations will take to this, to non-skippable commercial breaks.  Not only have they not watched television ads - like ever - but they're also predisposed to watching YouTube or Tik Tok where they have the option of skipping ads that don't speak to them.

How will younger generations take to watching TV ads? "Not great, Bob!"

And lo and behold, as I was working on this post, Tik Tok and MAGNA came out with a study finding that skippable ad environments generate higher engagement while forced views actually hinder it. 

Tik Tok and MAGNA Study

It’s not hard to take the leap on the effects that forced viewing will have for streaming and CTV. 

Advertisers and streaming platforms have the ability to take advantage of these captive eyeballs in a smarter, more strategic way and make a break from 60 years of traditional television advertising. 

Just because they can force consumers to watch ads doesn’t mean they should.  If they want to engender goodwill for their brands, advertisers and streaming platforms should be creative in their approach to their advertising. 

There’s a win-win here for advertisers, streamers and, yes, even consumers.  There’s an opportunity to test and learn.  We have the opportunity to be bold and different and think outside of the (television) box. 

Netflix is up to twenty-three million subscribers for their ad tier, so there’s growing momentum on this front.  I hope platforms use their power responsibly.

*My homage to Michael Scott

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