AT&T is the latest company to begin experimenting with pause ads. Xandr, the company’s advertising and analytics business, has begun beta testing the format.
Pause ads are available today through partners including AT&T Mobility, Epix and Starz across AT&T TV Now and select DirecTV households. The ads are enabled within live, video on-demand and DVR programming across cable, broadcast and premium networks on both digital and satellite.
“Our findings indicate that consumers aren’t anti-advertising. They’re pro-content, as long as it’s relevant and non-disruptive to them,” said Matt Van Houten, senior vice president of product development for Xandr, in a statement. “When we conducted research for Xandr’s Relevance Report, we found that 73% of consumers surveyed dislike ads that interrupt what they’re doing; therefore, Pause Ads are very much about the right message at the right time.”
In 2018, both AT&T and Hulu announced plans to begin testing pause ads. In February last year, Hulu kicked off beta testing of banner ads that appear when users pause their programming.
“Our pause ad research found that consumers generally preferred ads that were subtle and nonintrusive, and that extensive audio and video when pausing was considered disruptive. These insights led us to take our current approach to pause ads, and the research so far has shown a positive response from viewers,” wrote Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms at Hulu, in a blog post.
When the companies began floating the idea of pause ads in 2018, Rob Silvershein, an advertising analyst with The Diffusion Group, warned that pause ads will take some getting used to by consumers and that they are unlikely to move the needle much on overall ad revenues.
“Companies like AT&T and Hulu realize they require additional revenue streams in order to provide competitive quality content. The best solution is for these companies to have an honest dialogue with their customers, in order to come up with the proper mix of revenue streams to be successful. Regardless of outcome, pause ads at best will be a very small part of the mix.”