Written by Daisy Whitney.
Lately I’ve been tempted to do something I’ve never felt the urge to do before: hit the fast forward button when commercials appear in my favorite podcasts. I feel terrible — guilty even! — for admitting this. Because I really want to be a rah-rah cheerleader for online video and the ads that support them. But recently, I’m getting just as sick of ads in both web shows and TV shows online as everyone else is of commercials on oldteevee.
I’m not alone. When I reported on TVWeek.com last week that Hulu users mostly like the service, a commenter named “Hulu fan” wrote, “I don’t mind the commercials, but please get a little variety. I now hate Best Buy.”
And that’s kind of the problem isn’t it?
We can recall the ads, no problem: CBS Interactive says 50 percent of consumers remember the brands, NBC.com claims 86 percent do, ABC.com reports 84 percent of viewers recalled ads, and Revision3 says 100 percent of its viewers could name at least one sponsor. But that recollection isn’t so cute when we feel animosity toward the sponsor, like Hulu Fan does.
But networks say they’re working on ways to improve the online ad experience.
ABC said it encourages advertisers to vary the creative for the episodes they sponsor on ABC.com. This is good advice. In fact, when I watched the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC.com, I noticed that the sole sponsor, Comfort Inn, ran a series of different spots throughout the episode, which left me with some “warm” feelings about the brand. ABC also said ad recall is even higher for brands that mix up the creative or use interactivity than for those that simply repurpose 30-second spots.
Hulu is also working to change up the ad copy. “More diversity in ad creative is something that we’re working hand-in-hand with our advertisers to bring to our service,” said Hulu Spokeswoman Christina Lee.
Over at Revision3, the ads are usually different from show to show, according to CEO Jim Louderback. “It’s not repeatability, it’s watchability that drives the numbers,” he added.
Still, it’s my contention that networks and ad agencies should view the recall studies not as shiny, happy harbingers of success on the Web, but rather as evidence that they need to be more innovative with the kinds and content of online ads they run. Otherwise, they’ll be faced with a whole lot of “Hulu Fans” who are sick of their ads — and their brands.