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For many, the advent of streaming services meant a way to watching endless hours of television without having to sit through similarly endless commercials. However, lucrative ad dollars go a long way in funding many studios' projects, so the race is always on to find the easiest and least disruptive way to promote goods to consumers. To that end, Hulu and other streaming companies have a rather unique plan that could really change things up: airing ads during paused videos.
That's right, Hulu in particular wants to spice up those times when subscribers need to interrupt their binge-viewing in order to go to the bathroom or to get a snack. The company plans on rolling out such "pause ads," as they're being dubbed, to customers' plans in 2019.
As binge-viewing happens more and more, it's natural they are going to want to pause. . . . [Stretching and getting snacks provides] a natural break in the storytelling experience.
It's assumed that Hulu's ad goals will applied only to subscribers who haven't shelled out the extra money for the commercial-free plans, of which there are many. Just recently, Hulu introduced a limited Black Friday deal where a year's subscription cost just 99 cents a month, and the promotion was a massive success. But then who's to say what any of those new customers' opinions will be about the new pause ads?
It's understood that these particular ad breaks cannot be long-winded or too off-the-mark. It wasn't all that long ago when Netflix subscribers got vocally rabid when the company started testing a plan where promos for its own original series aired between episodes. As such, Hulu's Jeremy Gelfand and others are aware that they have mere seconds to try and effectively make a positive impact on viewers.
Hulu isn't the only company looking to bring sponsored content to TV viewers during those bite-sized pause breaks. AT&T is also aiming to implement more online advertising to consumers during short breaks between viewings. The company plans to bring full-motion ads to DirecTV and U-verse customers who hit pause while streaming its movies and TV shows.
Matt Van Houten, video president of product at AT&T's advertising division (itself called Xandr Media), sees a lot of promise in the new plan, saying this:
We know you're going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause. There's a lot of value in that experience.
Regardless of how people initially react, the plan's overall value may come down to the kind of advertising that these companies end up delivering. As Ventre Group CEO Tim Halon views it, pause ads will be far more effective if they are created to particular customers, or if there's some other relatable aspect to those that air. It won't do anyone any good if younger demographics are pausing shows only to be shown ads aimed at retirees.