true[X] may have been operating more than a decade now. But could the most recent of technology controversies be about to put the company in the sun?

The technology company, owned by 21st Century Fox, helps consumers see fewer ads in digital video when they engage with an initial interactive commercial – effectively bartering their input for a benefit.

Over the last year, consumers have become more aware than ever of the same kind of value exchange – the one in which they are trading their personal data for free online services. That could be good timing for true[X] president Pooja Midha.

“If we want to capture better quality of attention, then we need to give the consumer back something for giving us that,” she tells OMD chief investment officer Ben Winkler in this fireside chat at Beet Retreat.

“And so the opportunity as it manifests in video is to either watch the rest of the episode ad-free in exchange for engaging for 30 seconds at a minimum, or to skip the rest of a commercial pod in exchange for engaging for a minimum of 30 seconds.”

Growing awareness of the economics of attention in technology are not the only way in which business is coming in to true[X]’s orbit. In broadcasting, too, networks are falling over themselves to reduce their ad length, ad load or pod duration, in response to booming ad-free subscription video consumption.

For broadcasters, fewer ads may sound like it would add up to fewer dollars. But, Midha says, when you manage to engage viewers, the opposite is true – advertisers will pay more for less.

“In our experience they will,” she says. “we’re operating in a business that has, for many, many years … transacted on a couple of very specific metrics. And, as a result, we’ve built an entire planning system at the agencies, we’ve built an entire evaluation system at the clients of those agencies, and we’ve built an entire culture inside the media companies, of focusing on a couple of numbers.”

When partners are shown alternative numbers – the ones that illustrate how engagement moves the needle – a light goes on.

“We get people nodding along, and they’re like, ‘Yup, this is exactly the kind of thing I want to buy’,” she claims.

Operators like Turner, Fox and NBCUniversal have been experimenting with reducing their ad load or length in response to growing consumer resistance to interruptive ad practices.

But it’s a furrow true[]X] has been plowing for a while. “A couple of years ago what we were doing was seen as bananas, and now you see every network head talking about it,” Midha suggests. “I’m really heartened by some of the changes that we see, and some of the movement we see.”

This fireside was anchored by OMD chief investment officer Ben Winkler.

This video was produced at the Beet Retreat in City & Town Hall on June 6, 2018 in New York City. The event and video series are presented by LiveRamp, TiVo, true[X] and 605. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.