TV broadcaster is letting people watch fewer ads on its channel by using a trick adapted from the internet

People are doing whatever they can to avoid TV ads and Fox, the broadcasting giant wants to help them. The broadcaster has teamed up with the video tech company Innovid to bring new interactive ads to people’s TV screens designed to engage viewers and satisfy their desire to watch fewer ads. Specifically, viewers will be able to chose to watch a specific longer ad from a brand like Trident or Clorox, and, in return, they’ll be able to stream a show like FX’s “Atlanta” with limited commercial interruptions.

These new interactive ads – Fox calls them “Engagement Ads” – have already debuted on FX’s connected TV app (FX Now) via Roku devices, and Fox is planning to roll it out on multiple network’s digital platforms. These ads are available only when people stream content on demand, and not during live TV.

The ad product was born out of TrueX, the ad-tech company 21st Century Fox. For a while, TrueX ads were mostly limited to desktop experiences; a person streaming an episode of “Gotham” on could choose to watch a longer ad upfront in exchange for seeing fewer ads during the rest of the show.

This type of “watch an ad for longer content sessions” offering has become more common on digital outlets like Hulu and Spotify. But TrueX’s challenge has long been getting enough scale to make interactive ads compelling enough for ad buyers. Bringing the functionality to connected TV viewing, or OTT in ad-industry parlance, should help.

Fox’s move comes at a time when the TV industry is grappling with the rise of ad-free content streaming on services like Netflix and people ditching cable altogether. As a remedy, many in the industry have advocated reducing the number of ads on TV.

Turner has experimented with this tactic, and Fox has been testing six-second ads during NFL broadcasts. The trick will be for TV networks to ensure they can charge advertisers a high enough premium for these type of interactive ads to make up for any revenue lost from running fewer ads overall. Though Fox has been running the consumer choice ads for years, putting them on the TV screen has proven a technological challenge, said Tal Chalozin, cofounder and CTO at Innovid. On-demand viewing is fragmented (people connect using devices ranging from Apple TVs to Amazon Fires to Xboxes), and because consumers expect TV streaming to be seamless, so translating the digital ad tech to TV was not simple.

But the even bigger challenge is getting people accustomed to interacting with TV ads when they’re used to watching TV passively from the couch. Thus, the ads have to be both compelling and simple. Fox says it has been testing the new product on the FX app, and to date, 50% of viewers have chosen to interact with the brand’s video ads. The new interactive ads are rolling out on the TV apps for the Fox network and National Geographic Channel, in addition to FX. But Fox wants to bring this product to the rest of the industry. It has rival network A&E on board, for example.

(This article is sourced from Business Insider)

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