The Girl on the Skipping Ads Train

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In today’s world, consumers want to skip commercials as much as possible while watching television, through paying for subscription services or using ad blockers. Adding to the problem, consumers believe they are entitled to free television content.

But what does that mean for the advertising industry in traditional television media? Joe Marchese, President of Fox Advance Advertising Products, says advertising will not support the greatest stories of our time in television because now consumers want to pay for subscription services, like Netflix, that do not have advertisements. Other consumers may tape their shows and fast-forward during commercials. Tate Taylor, director of movies such as The Girl On The Train and The Help,says he even fast-forwards commercials sometimes. However, sometimes a commercial will have an impactful image and he rewinds and watches the commercial. With all these new distractions from advertising on television, Marchese says for the advertising industry, we must figure out what the new advertising model looks like and what value they can bring to the table.

Some advertising professionals are looking towards the “YouTube model,” as YouTube uses an unique advertisement experience with the opportunities for viewers to skip advertisements after five seconds. But will the “YouTube model” of advertising work with other forms of media? Although it is a great compromise for advertising and for consumers, the YouTube model may not work for traditional broadcast television. YouTube does not need to pay its content creators, whereas in television, corporations must pay their directors, writers, actors, etc. Without paying the content creators, content on television would not exist, says Joe Weisberg, creator and co-show runner of The Americans. Even with the five-second model, the creator must capture the attention of a viewer in just less than two seconds, says Weisberg.

Other advertisers believe they can focus on product placement in television shows. Laura Henderson, Global Head of Content & Media Monetization at Mondelez International, says the industry must start creating content that matters. With product placement, the advertising industry must understand how to integrate products in television shows in a meaningful way that makes sense and tells an authentic story.  For example, in The Americans, Weisburg says partnering with beer brands is natural, as their characters drink a lot of beer in their script for their show. Basically, it is not effective to slap a product that does not fit with the brand of a television show in order to make money. Advertisers and television producers must get together to form a cohesive partnership to mutually benefit each other when it comes to product placement.

However, the no-advertisement model works for subscription-based channels. Subscription services have helped shows on networks that require a subscription service. For Joel Fields, writer, executive producer and show runner on FX’s The Americans, says the no-ad format helps writers tell their story. On traditional networks, writers must create attention-grabbing scenes before commercial breaks. Now, Fields does not have to focus on phony cliffhangers. Instead, he can create more complicated relationships between characters and their stories to captivate the audience.

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