Want more ads? Appears that you do.

by David Spark on January 31, 2009

For years I’ve been attending conferences about the growing market of online video. And the number one topic that was and still is on everyone’s minds remains to be “How do we make money from this?” At that time, no one went the obvious route of, “Let’s place commercials in there just like on TV.” Oh no, we couldn’t do that. This is the Internet and there are new rules. We can’t make them watch commercials online like they do with traditional television.

The issue isn’t “No one wants pre-roll ads.” The issue is people want premium content.

The one issue that kept repeating itself was “No one wants pre-roll ads.” Well, that’s what “the experts” have been saying for years. And because the experts were constantly telling us that, companies like VideoEgg sprung up suggesting new ways to distribute advertising that are “less intrusive” such as overlays and “picture in a picture” programming with ads. Their definition of “less intrusive” meant that the programming is never interrupted, but we can still throw tons of distractions in your face while the video was playing.

At the time this all made sense because there used to be no high demand content online. People were watching tons of video online, but there wasn’t any “must see” online programming. That’s because only until recently, we didn’t have the opportunity, legally, to watch premium network television programming online for free. Also, at that time, no one was actually making TV commercials for online, except those that had already produced commercials for television. It costs money to make a TV commercial. It doesn’t cost much of anything to create a text link, overlay, or banner ad. The problem with online commercials and programming is that there was a lack of supply AND demand.

If we can actually watch it legally, we’ll stomach a pre-roll ad

But the truth is, if the public really wants to watch certain content they’ll stomach through a 15-second pre-roll ad. The reason is probably because by the time you’ve actually become annoyed with the ad, it’s over, or, and this is radical thinking, but maybe the public realizes…

Producing and distributing quality program isn’t free.

And as a result from our basic understanding of how the economics of video programming works, we’re willing to actually watch some advertising. Sure, eat up a whopping 15 seconds of my life so I can actually see that episode of “Lost” I missed on Wednesday night.

ABC.com has the drugs. We want them and we’ll do anything to get them.

But now there’s new news. According to ABC.com, they could safely double the number of commercials in their online programming and we’d still watch with no complaints. It kind of has the stink of a fraternity pledge who will say and do anything just so we can be part of the fraternity. Go ahead and smack us in the ass with the paddle/commercial. “Yes sir, I’ll have another.” We so want to be in the fraternity/see “Lost” that we’re willing to undergo the ridicule of watching more commercials.

We’re willing to watch more, and that doesn’t surprise me. When you have the drugs/content that’s as good as “Lost” you can toy with your audience a lot. We do have a breaking point, but as ABC.com has discovered, it’s beyond twice the number of ads.

For those of you who are big “Lost” fans, here are some of the best online resources for “Lost” fans.

This news item is for the Spark Minute week of 2/2/09 which can be heard daily on Green 960 and 910 KNEW in San Francisco, CA.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Thirdrail1 January 31, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I actually paused Lost s02e14 on todou.com to go check twitter, found your link, and came over here. It’s two tabs over as I type! Nice timing.

For me, you could not double the number of ads. I watch Daily Show and Colbert at Hulu, and they’re right at the edge. For me. And what I’d sit through to watch those shows. I probably don’t speak for a very large demographic, but I consider streaming a convenient alternative to bittorrent. The minute anything doesn’t stream to my satisfaction, I just grab the seed and steal it.

I think, like you’re suggesting, that commercial tolerance will depend a lot on the specific content. Looking at the continuum between say, Lost, and youtube videos, it seems like you’re going need a show with a certain level of popularity to pull off ads.

David Spark February 1, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Well, let me ask you this, what takes you more time? To sit through a few more 15 second ads that may take a whole extra minute, or go through the incredibly annoying process of Bittorrenting an entire movie, which can take forever, and then loading it up to watch it?

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