The Battle Against Ad Avoidance

The Battle Against Ad Avoidance

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


            As long as television ads have been around, people have been trying to avoid them.  Way back when, when live TV was the only option, the commercial break was the time to get up, use the restroom or hit the kitchen for a snack.  With the advent of VCRs and, later, DVRs to record a show, we relished in the perk of being able to fast-forward through the commercials.  Now, with so much of our media consumption via CTV/OTT or streaming services, we often opt to pay a few extra bucks, so we don’t have to waste our valuable time sitting through commercials.


            So should advertisers forget TV/CTV and invest more money in different mediums?  Well, not so fast.  Commercials are still vital to the industry.  And some apps and services don’t give the viewer an option to skip the ads.  Furthermore, CTV offers the option of personalizing ads, which may work to engage the viewer at a higher rate. 


            Still, it is a constant battle against viewers tuning out.  So what can be done to fight ad avoidance?


            First, let’s take a look at some stats.  According to Nielsen, CTV now reaches 142 million adults in the US each week.  That engagement has facilitated a dramatic increase in streaming video consumption over the past two years, and more than half (51% as of June 2021) of that viewing involves ad-free subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) content. 


            Those are some big numbers.  And many of those people don’t watch linear TV at all.  So with this new wave, perhaps traditional strategies are not the best way to tackle these issues.                                   

            Although this method is not new, brand integrations/product placements are proving to be an effective way to achieve ROI.  In a custom advertising survey Nielsen fielded earlier this year, they found that among video streaming service users, 66% of people 35-49 and 62% of people 18-34 said they’ve taken note of brands being used by the characters in streaming content they’ve watched.  What’s more, 52% of consumers 35-49 and 49% of people 18-34 said they are influenced to purchase the products they’ve seen being used in streaming video content.




            As mentioned, these strategies are not new by any means, but measurement of its success has historically been a challenge.  Interestingly, Nielsen developed a metric to that allows for SVOD brand integrations to be tracked in ways that put it on the same playing field as traditional advertising—using the traditional 30-second ad spot as a baseline.  They then analyzed the viewership of the Netflix program Cobra Kai to assess the equivalized value of the branded integrations within the first four weeks the program was available to stream.  Coors is the most prominent brand in the program, and the show’s lead character Johnny Lawrence drinks a lot of it.  That favoritism pays off, as Coors exposures garnered almost 170 million equivalized and valued impressions among viewers 21 and older through the first four weeks the program was available on Netflix.           


            From an engagement perspective, branded content can be an effective alternative because it’s typically developed to resemble editorial content instead of traditional advertising.  It’s often pretty seamlessly entwined in the story.  Nielsen’s Branded Content Effectiveness studies have found that viewers of branded content are 62% more likely to react positively than those who watch 30-second TV ads.  Additionally, 67% say they find branded content more entertaining, relevant and more likely to help them remember the brand.


            Yet, despite this feedback, marketers are still showing little interest in these types of ad formats.  Only 19% said they consider these options very or extremely important.  But marketing departments might want to consider investing in branded integration, as it might yield surprisingly positive results.  


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys and a snuggly Golden Retriever.