The Antidote To Ad Blocking

The best antidote to ad blocking is entertainment, even if that piece of entertainment is itself an actual ad, but especially if it’s supported by the right type of media buy.

Taylor Swift released her single, “Blank Space,” last year, which came with a popular music video. An accompanying app sponsored by American Express helped in promoting the singer’s “1989” album and subsequent tour, and in my mind, it remains a textbook case study of an “ad” that wouldn’t be blocked. The app made the entire four-plus-minutes experience immersive (rich media enabled multiple storylines), intriguing (users could search for clues to finish the “game” experience), and interactive (users could choose which storyline to follow and switch to others at will). Best of all, the environment was transactional, complete with links to purchase the album and tour tickets. 

Too many entertainment marketers are missing opportunities for consumer engagement because they still go for the “spray and pray” approach of video advertising, a carryover of the TV era in which TV spots are merely re-purposed as online videos with little thought about making those messages something that consumers don’t want to block.



Not every brand has pockets deep enough to associate itself with Swift. Nevertheless, the quality of that execution is a paradigm of what online video advertising can and should be. You actually don’t need buckets of money and blinding star power to be more effective. However, you must become more familiar with the benefits of an incremental investment in video ad buys, because more than likely you already have the most important assets for effective video advertising:

1. Quality of ad and delivery. High production values for online video matter a lot to this demo. The visuals and sound must dazzle with minimal buffering across devices. The minute users are served a pixelated, blurry video, no matter the platform, they bail. Buyers expect quality data, publishers expect quality brands and advertisers, and consumers expect a quality experience. Consumers watch a great deal of video content on their mobile devices, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to sacrifice quality for convenience. And even if the delivery is perfect, the content itself has to be inspiring and cannot be low-quality and formulaic. 

2. Engagement/interactivity. Having multiple characters and storylines can all be used to deliver a high-quality experience. Ads for Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” offered an interactive experience that allowed the user to choose their assassin’s mission by clicking one of two icons — gun shot or air assault — which changed the interaction. At the end of the trailer, users could click a button to pre-order the game. Any buyer of premium video placement wants to stretch that brand’s dollar and allow the user to engage for a longer time without spending more on the media. Entertainment properties have so much content in a mere 15-second video, and the simplest level of interactivity can make it sticky. 

Agencies think interactive video is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be because a movie trailer or video game ad already contains all the necessary assets. Making a few interactive tweaks is an easy way to reward fans of these entertainment properties and engage them to do more than watch the video. 

3. Relevance. Entertainment marketers, particularly movie studios, are missing opportunities to reach different audiences with the same ad by not building-in suspense about story outcomes. They need to go beyond simply creating and buying in-stream video ads that are only a lean-back experience for the user.  

Overlaying timely information on a video ad is the cornerstone of relevance. For instance, if you’re advertising to moms, maybe the ad needs to have a quote from a prominent mommy blogger that says, “Your child will love this show. Go!” For audiences whose online behavior indicates that reviews matter, that same ad might instead run a favorable quote from a critic or highlight an award or accolade for the content.

It’s time for entertainment marketers to lead the way by using their own content to make online video more relevant, immersive and effective. By continually evaluating the growing digital-video landscape for new strategic opportunities, entertainment marketers must strive to deliver a higher quality experience that will deter audiences from blocking ads, whether those audiences are leaning back or leaning in.

1 comment about "The Antidote To Ad Blocking".
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  1. Ted Fagenson from Skrownge, October 15, 2015 at 11:16 a.m.

    By far, mobile interactive entertainment is the best stimulant to gain a consumer's attention.  With the addition of personalization and relevancy, the experience will drive repeat usage as well. However, in the case of the Taylor Swift interactive video, did users actually play the "game" more than once? The random nature of this interactive experience led simply to the end of the song, rather than a reward for listening and "playing".  The missing element is a motivation to play to the end.  Without proper incentives, journeys like this leave the consumer stranded. 

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