CANNES – Reducing commercial ad loads on network television is paying dividends for viewers and advertisers. Now the industry needs to balance context and content to improve the ad experience on digital platforms.
That’s the prognosis of Chris Linn, President of Turner Entertainment’s truTV, which was the first network to announce limited commercial interruptions “and we have one of the most robust offerings,” he says in this interview with Beet.TV.
As of last October, all of its primetime premiers have had 50 percent commercials and promo loads, resulting in the addition of six minutes of content per hour.
The reason was simple. In a world of streaming services like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, “we know we have to compete with those platforms for our consumers,” Linn says. “So it’s incumbent upon us to create the best possible viewing experience that we can.”
Calling fewer commercial interruptions “a win win for both programming and also for advertisers,” Linn references research showing that it prompts higher unaided ad recall and higher intent to purchase advertised products and services.
“We can show that it actually drives physical purchase, actual business outcome. We can make deals based on that,” he says.
But on the digital side, there’s still work to be done with the viewing experience in mind.
“We’ve all been in that situation when you’re watching something in digital and you’re seeing the same ad over and over and over again and it feels abusive,” Linn says.
He doesn’t think consumers have a problem viewing ads so long as they are in the right context with content. “So I think we have to do just a better job of managing that aspect of digital.”
There’s also a balancing act between finely tuned targeting and reaching the broadest audience possible. Having lots of tools at one’s disposal is one thing, but at the end of the day most brands are seeking the utmost in reach, according to Linn.
“We look forward to the day when on linear we have the same sort of targeting mechanisms that you have on digital, and we’re working towards that,” he says. “But I don’t think we ever want to get into a world where we’re only talking to this many people.”