×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pausing Your Show? New AT&T Ads Will Start to Roll (EXCLUSIVE)

Stop. This might be a good time for a commercial.

Consumers are increasingly resistant to sitting through a traditional commercial break, but what if they were given the option of watching a commercial during breaks of their own?

AT&T’s Xandr ad-tech unit has begun selling a new version of what has been called a “pause ad,” or a commercial put in front of modern video-surfing consumers when they decide to use the remote to call for a stop in their viewing action. Hulu has used viewer pauses to post a static, translucent image over the inactive screen for advertisers like Coca-Cola or Procter & Gamble. But AT&T is taking things a step further: Thirty seconds after a customer of the company’s video services calls for a pause, a video ad starts to run with full motion.

“That’s a non-interruptive ad. It’s very high value. It’s very brand safe. It’s 100% viewable, and our sales team is in the market now with that product and it’s gotten great reception,” says Brian Lesser, Xandr’s CEO, in an interview. He says Xandr is likely to offer more detail about its “pause ad” concepts at CES in early 2020. The company declined to name advertisers who were using the technique, but said the commercials have already surfaced on DirecTV and other AT&T-operated video systems.

AT&T’s concept arrives as more advertisers are grappling with a modern generation of TV-watchers who are increasingly conditioned to despise traditional commercial breaks, which interrupt the programming which originally drew them to the screen. As more consumers migrate to subscription-based streaming-video services, the problem has been exacerbated. After all, outlets like Netflix and Amazon Prime do not break up their video offerings with the commercial breaks that have for decades been a staple on CBS, NBC and ESPN.

TV viewers have long been leery of commercial breaks. In a different era, one in which remotes and broadband connections did not exist, the “word from our sponsor” provided a great moment for a couch potato to run to the bathroom  or amble over to the kitchen to grab a snack. In recent years, the advent of DVRs and on-demand streaming has made the commercial break and even dicier proposition, even though traditional TV ads continue to draw billions of dollars every year to big TV companies. In recent months, however, some networks have tinkered with their business model, hoping they can run fewer commercials during certain programs, and use that environment to charge higher prices for the ads that remain (and are tailored to the program they accompany).

AT&T might solve a larger problem. Hulu’s “pause ads” appear only to viewers who opt for an ad-supported version of the on-demand service. But the new Xandr creation overlays “pause ads” onto traditional linear viewing of broadcast and cable networks.

Research suggests that viewers “would rather see immersive advertising than a freeze-frame of a screen saver or something else,” Lesser says.

Viewers may not feel drawn to watch ads of their own accord, but the simple fact of the matter is that commercial support makes for more affordable TV viewing. And that’s why broadband outlets like Hulu and CBS All Access offer ad-supported tiers and why some companies like ViacomCBS have put new emphasis on free-to-watch outlets like Pluto, which defray costs by running video selections with commercials.

Will AT&T’s new pause concept work better than other efforts? That’s no doubt something executives will have to take a break to consider.

 

 

 

 

 

More TV

  • Jay Sures

    UTA Co-President Jay Sures Reappointed to University of California Board of Regents

    UTA co-president Jay Sures has been reappointed to the University of California Board of Regents for a 12-year term. The term, which is still pending Senate confirmation, will be effective from March 2 and was announced among a larger batch of appointments by Governor Gavin Newsom. Sures was first appointed to the position in Jan. [...]

  • Netflix - The Witcher

    'The Witcher' on Track to Be Netflix's Biggest TV Show Premiere Ever, Company Claims

    Netflix said “The Witcher,” the fantasy series starring Henry Cavill, is pacing to be its biggest first-season original TV series ever. “The Witcher,” which debuted Dec. 20 on Netflix, was chosen to be watched by 76 million customer households in the first four weeks of release, according to the company. That would appear to mean [...]

  • RuPaul

    RuPaul, JJ Watt to Host 'Saturday Night Live' in February

    RuPaul and JJ Watt will both make their “Saturday Night Live” hosting debuts in February. NBC announced Tuesday that Watt will host the Feb. 1 installment of the long-running sketch series with musical guest Luke Combs. Watt is currently a defensive end for the Houston Texans and three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year. Combs’ [...]

  • Gary Dauberman

    'Annabelle,' 'IT' Screenwriter Gary Dauberman Inks First-Look Deal at UCP

    Gary Dauberman has signed a first-look television deal with Universal Content Productions (UCP), the studio announced Tuesday. Under the deal, Dauberman will write and produce scripted projects across all platforms. He will also launch his own production company, Coin Operated. Dauberman is known for his work on the screenplay for the new film version of [...]

  • Chris McCarthy Sets ViacomCBS Team for

    Chris McCarthy Sets ViacomCBS Leadership Team for Entertainment & Youth Division

    ViacomCBS’ senior leadership ranks are coming into sharper focus as Chris McCarthy, head of the sprawling Entertainment and Youth wing has solidified his senior leadership team. A number of executives closely associated with McCarthy are gaining additional responsibilities, including programming maven Nina Diaz, MTV chief marketing officer Jacqueline Parkes and PR chief Liza Burnett Fefferman. [...]

  • Jonathan Del Arco

    'Star Trek: Picard' Actor Jonathan Del Arco Launches 'Hollywood Caucus' Podcast With First Guest Jeri Ryan

    Jonathan Del Arco is boldly going into the intersection of entertainment and politics. On Tuesday, the “Star Trek: Picard” actor debuted his new podcast “Hollywood Caucus,” with co-host Tara Karsian. Hailing from Dan Harmon’s Starburns Audio, the podcast will feature interviews with figures from both the entertainment industry and the political sphere. For the premiere [...]

  • The Prince HBO Max

    HBO Max Orders Animated British Royal Family Satire Series 'The Prince'

    HBO Max has ordered an animated comedy series centered on the British royal family. “The Prince” hails from writer and executive producer Gary Janetti. Based on Janetti’s Instagram account, the series takes a look at the royals through the eyes of Prince George, the eldest child of Prince William and Princess Kate. Janetti will voice [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content