Where content is abundant and viewers have endless choices at their fingertips, a new menace has emerged that threatens to tarnish the reputation of brands and the streaming platforms themselves: repetitive advertising.

 A recent ad effectiveness test conducted by Magna Media Trials and Nexxen, an ad-tech platform, shed light on just how damaging these repetitive ads can be to both the viewers and the advertisers.

During the controlled test, 1,246 weekly streaming viewers were exposed to the same ad at varying frequencies, from one to six times, during an hour-long viewing session of their favorite TV show. The results were striking, with a staggering 87% of participants agreeing that they saw too many of the same ads. 

Overexposure to these repetitive ad campaigns was described as “annoying” and “disruptive,” leading to a 16% drop in purchase intent among those who had seen the same ad six times or more.

While it is undeniable that repetitive ads can achieve strong brand recall, with participants who saw the same ad six times exhibiting a 92% recall rate, negative associations were linked to increased frequency. Nearly half of the participants found the ad “annoying,” and one-third reported that it “disrupted” their viewing experience. Furthermore, the study revealed that 83% of participants believed the repetition was intentional, with 68% blaming the brand and 44% blaming the streaming service for the repetitive ads.

“While repetitive ads may achieve strong brand recall, it is evident from our study that they come at a cost,” remarked Kara Manatt, executive vice president of intelligence solutions at Magna. “The platforms are suffering too because people also attribute the fact that this is happening to the platform. It really can be so annoying to people and viewers that they’re willing to find content elsewhere.”

The study also found that viewers were not passively enduring this ad bombardment. More than half of the viewers surveyed indicated that they would take action to avoid ad overkill. Actions included checking if another streaming service offered the same content, recommending against the streaming service, ceasing to watch the service, canceling subscriptions, or developing a less favorable opinion of the service.

The blame for this incessant repetition falls on both advertisers and streaming platforms. Marketers must ensure they purchase ad space on platforms equipped with effective technology to manage ad frequency. 

Failure to do so not only results in a decline in purchase intent but also damages the brand’s reputation. Streaming platforms, on the other hand, need to ensure they have the ability and adequate data to manage ad frequency and avoid irritating their viewers.

In the pursuit of maximizing profits, streaming platforms have embraced ad-supported business models. However, the indiscriminate placement and repetition of ads are driving viewers to frustration. There are indications that people who repeatedly encounter the same ad become less likely to buy the advertised product, and many customers have voiced complaints about repetitive ads.

Some networks have attempted to address this issue by showing a single long ad at the beginning of the episode and nothing else during the show, or by employing unobtrusive pause-screen ads.

 However, a more comprehensive solution is required to ensure a pleasant and engaging advertising experience for viewers across different streaming platforms.

The lack of underlying technology to manage ad frequency across multiple platforms exacerbates the problem. As more streaming services enter the market and vie for viewers’ attention, ads risk becoming intolerable, rendering the platforms unwatchable. 

Advertising executives have already started seeking ways to innovate episodic ad campaigns to alleviate repetition.

Netflix, one of the giants in the streaming industry, is considering implementing episodic ad campaigns in its “Basic with Ads” subscription tier. This move would present consumers with a series of interrelated ads while binging a movie or series, potentially reducing the annoyance caused by repeated ads during an ad break.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies with advertisers, streaming platforms, and ad tech companies to work together to deliver an advertising experience that does not deter viewers or damage brands’ reputations. 

Effective management of ad frequency and employing innovative ad formats will be crucial in restoring the harmony between advertising and streaming, ensuring both viewers and brands benefit from the streaming CTV space without being driven away by ad overkill.

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