Pleasing television viewers while meeting advertiser goals is the constant balancing act facing ad-supported content providers. With this in mind, Fox Networks Group recently embraced YouTube’s six-second ad format as it continues to experiment with limited-ad offerings and enhanced audience targeting.

“Our biggest form of competition in human attention in the entertainment television space is ad-free viewing environments versus ad-supported viewing environments,” says Noah Levine, Senior Vice President of Advertising Data and Technology Solutions for Fox Networks Group.

Fox aspires not only to preserve TV as an ad-supported medium but also to “enhance its market messaging, its brand safety, its effectiveness and the quality of ad recall,” Levine says in this interview with Beet.TV.

Fox used the occasion of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity to lend its weight to the six-second ad format that YouTube launched last year, as Advertising Age reports. Fox’s six-second ads will be shown to viewers across its digital and on-demand properties, where they will be unskippable, along with linear TV.

The rationale behind supporting six-second ads is that if agencies and advertisers are embracing a format that reduces the amount of time people are obligated to spend watching commercials while supporting advertisers’ goals, “That’s something that we’re absolutely willing to embrace and experiment with,” Levine adds.

Fox’s FX Networks already has some of the most Emmy nominated and awarded TV content that is ad-supported. To preserve and enhance the viewer experience, FX has crafted an option for set-top box, video-on-demand and digital content.

Under this scenario, “essentially an advertiser would own the entire ad viewing experience for an individual viewer and craft a story from a brand messaging perspective, from pre-roll to each and every mid-roll,” Levine explains.

Another FX offering consists of sponsored ad breaks wherein mid-roll positions “can be one ad that isn’t competing for attention along with four other 30-second ads for the viewer.”

Fox’s limited-ad options can be targeted to specific types of content, whether it’s FX originals, movie or other programming, according to Levine.

With audience-based targeting, Fox seeks to go beyond age and gender. “Let’s go into enhanced demographics. Let’s look at the third-party data sets that are out there” to deliver the most effective and engaging advertising “that’s as relevant as possible to the end user.

This interview was recorded in Manhattan as part of the Comcast/FreeWheel 2017 U.S. Client Summit “Unifying the New TV Ecosystem.” This series of videos from the summit is presented by FreeWheel.

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