Authentication: More Ads You Can’t Skip Through


A new survey from Solutions Research Group found that 73 percent of Time Warner (s TWX) and Comcast (s CMCSA) subscribers polled thought the idea of their authentication plans (TV Everywhere and OnDemand Online, respectively), which will provide more premium video content online at no extra charge to paying TV subscribers, were either an “excellent” or a “good” idea. We wonder if those respondents knew that authentication wasn’t just bringing a host of new television programming to the web; it’s bringing all the TV ads along with it.

My Boys

We first learned of this ad frequency increase earlier this week when we spoke to CBS Interactive President Quincy Smith. CBS (s CBS) is the first traditional broadcaster participating in the OnDemand Online trial, and Smith said that one of the hurdles the program needs to overcome is getting consumers used to seeing more ads with their web video programming.

The Wall Street Journal follows up this morning with a story about how shows from OnDemand Online participant Turner (s TWX), including My Boys and The Closer, will both carry their full load of ads from traditional TV, which is more than four times as many ads than the typical ad load on many sites. And as a bonus (for advertisers), the ads can’t be skipped.

The idea of upping the number of ads isn’t a new one. Earlier this year ABC (s DIS) found that users didn’t mind seeing double the number of ads (eight vs. four) during an online broadcast of an hour-long TV show. And NBC (s GE) CEO Jeff Zucker has been banging his “digital dimes for analog dollars” mantra about the disparity between old and newteevee.

How will this industry push towards more ads impact Hulu, which has achieved stratospheric growth in part because of the few ads it shows? A Hulu rep tells the Journal that its focus is on increasing ad effectiveness and revenue rather than frequency. Good luck with that, since Hulu is owned by both NBC and ABC.

There is a chance that online video won’t need as many ads as television. Online video ads can command higher CPMs than their traditional TV counterparts, so you wouldn’t need as many. Though part of that higher CPM is due to less ad clutter. As Smith told us during our interview, there is a long-term possibility of relying more on ad targeting than frequency. Hulu itself is delving deeper into behavioral targeting by bringing on AudienceScience to improve the effectiveness of the portal’s video ads.

But until then, meet the newteevee, same as the oldteevee.



This isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread as all the press has been telling you. These shows will be day old video of programs already broadcast and have the “Power Ads” inserted into the content. There is no way you are going to be able to watch IPTV without ads but do you want them doubled down. Live wireless as broadcast TV is coming to your computer from one website. It is a low cost alternitive to cable but with all the Cable channels (USA,A&E,TNT,etc) and standard networks also.

Being BETA tested right now (only 4 channlels) but the public launch will be 50 to 100 with,VOD,PiP,Tweet, & more.


They need to find new metrics, maybe similar to what Hulu is doing. And they need to avoid falling into the trap of interruptive advertising. Ads need to come to the audience when the audience wants them — it makes them more tolerable, more on target and more effective. They also need to differentiate their content; some should be given away free to gather the audience, while other more premium content might be able to win subscription revenue. Possibly in addition to the cable fees, maybe not. They have to build an understanding of niche and not be devoted to the mass; when they focus on mass appeal for traditional advertisers they’re driving away as many, though probably more, valuable viewers. Basically they’re not even seeing a market that just doesn’t fit the way they’re modeling their business. An unfortunate short term vision built on myopic assumptions.

Stuffing content with ads weakens the content and makes it less compelling. It’s easier for the audience to abandon it when it’s cut to pieces and barely a shred of a story remains. Build a loyal devoted audience with skillful storytelling and then you’re on to something beyond cheap content that’s really just ad filler.


Flat out dumb and an indication that they believe the old model still works. Media companies continue to be devoted to serving up a product that appeals to advertisers and completely forgetting that their product is worthless without an audience. Increasing ad minutes or ad breaks destroys the content by eliminating the need to follow the story. Without valuing the content and the entertainment value they will fail to attract the audience they think they’re losing.

Chris Albrecht

What do you think they should do instead, Brad?

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