S een one too many “Avengers” or “Battleship” online commercials or Internet ads this summer on movie or entertainment sites? That’s the point. Still, in the face of ever-rising online advertising clutter, marketers are looking to make adjustments.

For many, the rapid growth of online advertising/messaging — display ads, rich media animation, auto-play video, and pre-roll video advertising — may seem out of control on digital platforms, especially when it comes to glitzy entertainment advertising. But, for the most part, consumers welcome this content, say executives.

“Consumers are a lot more willing to be interrupted by content like a 30-second movie trailer than they are by a 30-second ad for pet food or financial services,” says Dave Martin, senior VP of media for digital media agency Ignited USA, whose clients include NBC Universal.

“It’s critical because entertainment lives on the power of sampling,” says Dave Morgan, prez of Simulmedia, a TV advertising company whose clients include CBS.

The trouble is, there is now a lot more of it. Morgan says where the average consumer might have been exposed to eight different entertainment products a week online, now it might be more like 20.

Recently, on one of the biggest consumer movie sites, Yahoo! Movies, the movie “Battleship” from Universal Pictures offered up a rich media ad this summer that evolved into animation where explosions blew a “hole” into the Yahoo! Movies home page. This was followed by some video/display content of the film’s stars.

Marketing executives call this “disruption” — a trend that was once controversial but now ubiquitous.

“Unless we expect all content to be accessed through a paid subscription, advertising still needs to work,” says Martin. “And for it to work it needs to be intrusive enough to be noticed.”

When the “Battleship” animation stopped, two display ads remained on the site suggesting viewers “click to expand” for tickets, and another prompting to “watch trailer.” Marketers say it is this last part of the ad — interaction and engagement — that is increasingly important.

Chet Fenster, managing partner and director of content creation for Group M’s MEC Entertainment, who puts together branded entertainment deals, says you may get “10,000 (people) from clicking (on) an ad and 1 million impressions from those who don’t.” What does that mean? “There isn’t a high level of engagement.”

Commercial clutter could get some help soon — especially from entertainment marketers and their platforms. A growing number of sites are offering up “ad selectors,” where consumers choose one of three commercials to watch.

Media agency group VivaKi, part of Publicis Groupe, has promoted one effort, called the Pool. The Pool allows consumers top pick one of three video commercials that run before a premium TV show or, say, a YouTube video.

Tracey Scheppach, senior veep of innovation and director of VivaKi, who came up with the Pool idea, says more than 100 advertisers have tried it out with research showing those video ads have some 300% more awareness for consumers versus a single video ad that cannot be avoided.

Ad selectors can now be found on premium video sites such as Hulu, as well as enjoying participation from entertainment advertising/publishers including CBS Interactive, Fancast/Comcast Interactive Media, FoxNews, Microsoft Advertising, Discovery and Scripps Interactive.

“It’s better for the viewer, better for advertisers and better for programmers who can get a premium (for that inventory),” says Scheppach. Soon the Pool’s efforts will expand into other online messaging, such as display and rich media ads.

Simulmedia’s Morgan says in the end: “Consumers will avoid ad-overloaded sites for those which are friendlier.”

And if they don’t? One scenario, says Morgan, is that “paid content services might grow, as people seek less-cluttered environments. Netflix is a great case in point here. They drive a lot of usage from families of children’s content, apparently not only because it’s on-demand, but it’s ad free.”


9-9:30 a.m.: How technology is transforming content and how brands move from a one-off to an always-on programming strategy. Ensemble president & CEO Scott Donaton and Google’s Jonathan Perelman discuss.

9:30-10 a.m.: Anne Sweeney , co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group is interviewed by Variety’s Cynthia Littleton.

10-10:45 a.m.: How brands, media and properties are engaging with consumers in new ways. Al Lieberman, professor of marketing at NYU’s Stern School of Business moderates.

11-11:30 a.m.: Bob Safian, editor, Fast Co., interviews Frank Cooper , chief marketing officer, Pepsi.

11:30 a.m.:– 12:15 p.m . With technology-enabled consumer choice changing the game on a daily basis, how are advertisers and marketers breaking through the clutter? Tyler Gray, editorial director, digital at Fast Co. moderates a discussion.

2–2:45 p.m.: How is Paramount leveraging technology and the power of social media to drive engagement in the new world order? Amy Powell, president of Paramount Digital Entertainment and Matt Jacobson, head of market development at Facebook exchange views.

3:30-4:15 p.m.: As consumers continually interact with smartphones and tablets, there are more ways to advertise than ever before. But what is the wisest way to reach auds without losing their attention? Richard Whittington, senior VP, media & entertainment, SAP moderates a discussion.

5:15-6 p.m.: Marketers are raising the bar for seamless product placement in TV and film. Brent Weinstein, head of digital & emerging media, UTA, moderates a discussion.