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Snippet: Hulu and AT&T Seriously Considering Ads When Paused ☇

Shared on December 5, 2018

Brian Steinberg for Variety:

Imagine an ad for soda or beer that comes on the screen just as you decide to stop the action during a run of an episode of “Black-ish” on Hulu to go to the kitchen for a snack, or a pitch for toilet paper that begins to move in the moments before you choose to halt the video stream for a bathroom break. And yet, there’s no guarantee viewers will welcome “pause-vertising” any more than they do the current crop of 30-second pitches.

Some outlets are willing to bet they will. “As binge-viewing happens more and more, it’s natural they are going to want to pause,” says Jeremy Helfand, vice president and head of advertising platforms for Hulu, speaking of modern-day couch potatoes. Hulu intends to unveil what it calls “pause ads” in 2019. When a user chooses to stretch, or get a snack, he says, “it’s a natural break in the storytelling experience.”

AT&T also has hopes to use the pause to lend new momentum to TV advertising. The company, which owns DirecTV and U-verse, expects to launch technology next year that puts a full-motion video on a screen when a user decides to take a respite. “We know you’re going to capture 100% viewability when they pause and unpause,” says Matt Van Houten, vice president of product at Xandr Media, AT&T’s advertising division. “There’s a lot of value in that experience.”

I previously used AT&T’s DirecTV Now and currently use Hulu’s live TV service. Like many, most of the time I’ll pause content for a break in the content, but also a break in sound—a quick phone call, conversation with someone in the room, looking at a detail on the show/movie, etc. I hope there’s backlash if these turn out to be video ads. Plus, with even more ads I’d seriously consider canceling my service and going elsewhere.

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