On the web, so conventional wisdom has it, surfers have long been accustomed to watching few ads – or even none at all.
So Mondelēz International, the giant food manufacturer, wants to come up with a way to make watching the ads that accompany streaming-video as appetizing, say, as its Oreos or Triscuits. The company is teaming up with Fox Networks Group, the 21st Century Fox unit that runs FX, Fox Broadcasting and Fox Sports 1, to figure out how to make ads more appealing to viewers who have been taught not to sit still for traditional commercial breaks.
“We don’t deserve consumers’ attention. We have to earn it” with commercials that are appealing and even useful, said Kristi Karens, who supervises media and content for Mondelēz in North America, in an interview. “Consumers are feeling less tolerant of traditional ads.”
Mondelēz and Fox will, under the terms of the partnership, work to roll out new ads tailored to new kinds of viewing behaviors – such as streaming video on a mobile device or watching video on demand. Fox has over the last year promoted a technology that offers streaming-video viewers the chance to choose to watch ads that offer an enticement or are more relevant to their behavior at the time they are viewing. The ads take up the entire screen and by choosing to watch one, the consumer gets to skip a series of more traditional commercials that might have accompanied their selection.
Fox and Mondelēz are, essentially, trying to carve out a new path in a new frontier. A new generation of consumers is growing up without the notion in their heads that they must sit through two to five minutes’ worth of TV commercials for every ten minutes they watch of a favorite program. Digital video has for years tended to come with fewer commercials, with streaming video hubs like Hulu even testing the idea of letting users choose they kind of pre-roll ad they’d like to watch in exchange for not having other commercial interruptions.
Even so, advertisers like some of the things TV has provided over the years, and hope to build digital models that emulate them, Digital viewing is growing, said Andrew Donchin, chief investment officer at Amplifi U.S., an arm of Dentsu Aegis Network that helps Mondelēz buy and place its advertising, but “we want the same accountability we have always had with TV.”
Fox and Mondelēz have been planning the partnership for months, but the pact is unveiled just two weeks after Fox Broadcasting said it planned to live-stream the bulk of its primetime entertainment schedule across the U.S., starting this season, which will feature programs like “Lethal Weapon” (pictured, above). The service will be available to pay-TV subscribers. Other networks are making similar bets, such as CBS Corp.’s subscription-based ”All Access” service.
The two companies hope to devise commercials that are tailored to particular situations, such as watching video on a mobile device or via Roku or Apple TV, said David Levy, who leads non-linear advertising at Fox Networks Group. The companies also want to attempt to figure out if a consumer is aware of a particular brand or has yet to recognize it, he said – meaning that different ads could greet different people during the same piece of Fox content, depending on what data the companies have. “I believe we have to be focused on reducing consumer time with commercials, and increasing the impact,” Levy said.
And despite the digital nature of the agreement, TV is part of it. On July 30, Mondelēz will be featured in “Heaven Sent,” a show slated to be broadcast on Fox Broadcasting that will depict skydiver Luke Aikins jumping from 25,000 feet. live with no parachute. The show will be re-broadcast on National Geographic on Sunday, July 31. Other Fox shows could also feature the food maker in the near future.