In the streaming world, traditional TV ad loads of 14 to 18 minutes per hour won’t fly. Services like Tubi, Peacock, and HBO Max have been pushing the ad load bar ever lower. I asked a panel of experts how low ad loads could go.
There is huge variation in the ad load that viewers experience across the ad-supported streaming TV industry. In some virtual linear channels, the load is similar to traditional linear television, between 14 and 18 minutes per hour. Streaming providers are delivering much fewer ads to improve the experience. For example, Peacock is holding ad time to no more than five minutes per hour. HBO Max says the load for its ad-supported tier will be four minutes per hour and is currently lower than that.
The trend and intent are clear: give viewers a much better experience than they receive on traditional television. But how low can the AVOD FAST ad loads go? I put this question to a panel of experts at the VideoNuze Connected TV Ad Summit last week during my panel “FAST + AVOD = Big Opportunity.” Here is what Tubi, Wurl, A&E Networks, and Digitas had to say.
To find the minimum, do the math!
Wurl is a pioneer in helping content providers launch virtual linear channels on FAST services like Pluto TV and Samsung TV Plus. Sean Doherty, the company’s CEO, says that on average FAST channels carry between seven and seven-and-a-half minutes of ads per hour. However, there is a lower limit below which they cannot go:
“I think the minimum is 3 minutes. And it’s really about the math of all the infrastructure costs that companies bear to deliver to their audiences. And how many ads you need to sell to cover that cost.”
Peacock and HBO Max are at the minimum
A&E launched its first FAST channel, Lively Place, in 2019, working with Wurl. A&E has subsequently added more FAST channels, including Skills and Thrills, Tiny House Nation, and Crime 360. VP of Global Content Monetization & Strategy at A+E Networks Sarah Shriver thinks the minimum load is higher:
“It’s gotta be somewhere between five and seven. There’s rich targeting in there, and the advertisers want it. As long as we get enough volume of ads and it’s a good user experience, I think it can hold to five to seven minutes.”
Ads will evolve to keep the load low
Tubi is primarily an on-demand provider of free ad-supported TV. The service has maintained a light three-to-five-minute ad load, which Natalie Bastian, VP of Marketing at Tubi, thinks is about right. However, she thinks the ads will change to optimize the ad values and experience:
“I do think the definition of an ad is going to evolve and go beyond the 30-second spot. I think it already has, and CTV is a great platform to continue to evolve and create great touchpoints for an advertiser to reach a consumer.”
Providers must balance ad values against ad-load
Digitas is a global marketing and technology agency, and Beth Weeks is the VP and Group Director for its media practice. She believes that three-to-five minutes is the right ad load from an experience perspective, but she is concerned that providers aren’t validating that CPMs are high enough to make that ad load work:
“If we are providing a reduced ad load that is presumptuously less cluttered experience and higher recall, how are we validating the effectiveness of the lower ad load relative to the CPM, that may go up to a premium as a result of fewer ad opportunities.”
How low do you think AVOD FAST ad loads can go? Post in the comments section below to let us know.
nScreenMedia June 14, 2021 at 05:43AM Colin Dixon
Tagged with: nScreenMedia