Dish boss on ad-skipping service: 'I don’t want to kill ads'
We're the Indiana Jones of TV networks
Dish reckons the legal action taken against its ad-skipping service only proves it's innovating in the right direction and is ahead of its time.
That's according to Charlie Ergen, the Dish supremo who told an AllThingsD conference in California that Dish was like Indiana Jones - always getting itself into impossible scrapes and then escaping at the last minute, and that objections to its AutoHop system are akin to Hollywood's fear of video tape which eventually proved hugely profitable once the studios had worked out how to make it pay.
AutoHop removes adverts from TV shows, but only those streamed from the Dish Primetime Anytime service which narrowcasts shows from a Dish cloud up to a week after broadcast, by agreement with the broadcaster. But the broadcasters didn't know Dish was planning to cut out the adverts, and objected in a case which Fox lost last November but is still pursuing.
That's fine, according to Ergen, because litigation shows Dish is heading in the right direction, and that advertising has to change:
"I don’t want to kill ads. I think advertising is great, and I’m very aware that there’s multiple revenue streams in television, subscription and advertising. But I also don’t want to put my head in the sand, and I think the world is changing."
Hopper is intended to deliver targeted adverts, rather than just cutting them out, but that's an idea which advertisers, and the TV networks, are having trouble adapting to so for the moment the ads are just skipped with a single tap on the remote.
PVRs routinely let viewers skip adverts, and in the UK BARB (the ratings agency) tracks that to the point that advertisers on, say, Sky, don't pay for the advert if the viewer doesn't watch it. Sky tells us that 70 per cent of viewers using Sky+ skip the adverts, but only a fifth of Sky viewing is time-shifted (the rest is live) and that tends to be additional, so for the moment the overall numbers remain about the same.
But AutoHop takes things a little further, as the viewer doesn't even see the ads on fastforward, and as time-shifted viewing gets more popular TV will have to find another way to fund itself.
Embedded advertising is one way (fancy some Highland Water after watching Dancing on Ice last Sunday?) but Ergen reckons targeted advertising is the way to go, and is pitching his Hopper box as the best way to deliver it. ®
If you advertise reasonably, I really wouldn't care. The problem is sheer greed at expense of the thing I purchased. Long adverts, multiple adverts, adverts smack in the middle of important broadcasts and events, adverts showing over my programs, adverts talking over my program (i.e. any jokes in the end credits are lost), adverts sponsoring the weather (and mentioning it all the time), adverts sponsoring programs (and having splashscreens and even - URGH - product placement in them), having the adverts louder than the program, having the adverts unskippable (on DVD, etc.), having the adverts be annoying / attention grabbing (GoCompare / Cilit Bang, though the Cilit Bang man has learned to tone his voice down a bit now).
All these things just make me AVOID advertising and get in the way of the thing I *BOUGHT* (whether I pay enough for them NOT to have to do these things is another question entirely, I've still paid money for it, so I'm still a paying customer, and I'm still - therefore - entitled to a decent product). So I feel no sympathy about destroying their business by getting rid of their advertising.
To me, modern TV advertising is the equivalent of plastering posters over people's cars and private houses for 100 miles around to tell people about your product, whereas it used to be about having relevant adverts in relevant places quite discreetly and covertly (the equivalent of putting up a poster about a local group in the local community posting board). Making me HATE your brand, before I've even bought one of your products, doesn't help you.
On the Internet, I don't see much advertising apart from that that's done discreetly (looking at this very page now, I see a few "Play Flash" buttons that my browser has disabled by default, and a Jobsite ad which is below the page content, out of the way, discreet, basic and relevant. Do I object to or block Google Ads? No, for the most part they work that same way. Do I object to and block Flash ads, Java ads, popups, popunders, popovers, intermission screens where I have to wait and everything else? Yes. It's unnecessary, and it just puts me off and will stop me coming back to your site. I will also actually INVEST TIME in getting rid of you, which is NOT what you want as an advertiser because it will have a knock-on effect on your brands.
Advertising is not about drowning out everyone else at the expense of the good name of your brand (you won't, all you'll do is annoy me). It's about a subtle, relevant insertion that builds up subconsciously ("Oh, yes, I've heard of Jobsite, maybe try them?") and might even be useful for me (e.g. ads for offers related to dedicated servers when I'm googling for dedicated servers! So long as they get the hell out of the way when I'm looking for "dedicated counterstrike servers with no queue" or whatever).
So I feel no shame in blocking things (except I don't, for the most part, and certainly not because of the ads alone but the stupidity of running Flash/Java by default, etc.), avoiding things, and blacklisting brands that have annoyed me. They do a hundred times worse to me every day.
The problem with commenters' valuable business advice here is this: You, Reg readers, are not the target audience. We're a tiny percentage of the market, and were written off a long time ago.
"I don't watch any ads" is meaningless as far as this issue goes - the question is not what you do. The question is not whether you don't like anything on TV anyway, or whether you use adblock in Firefox, or whether you don't have a TV. Advertisers don't give half a rat's ass about you, because you're not going to be swayed by their ads even if you see them.
Advertisers are concerned about the other 95% of the population, who do watch TV, who don't use adblock, and who do for some reason think that the ability to kill 99% of bacteria is a useful benchmark with which to choose kitchen cleaner.
It's not possible to have a sane discussion about the business decisions involved here if you decide that everyone in the world is just like you, and that therefore the people who make their living doing this are, every single one of them, complete morons who haven't even considered the most basic aspects of their own business. Is it more likely that's the case, or is it more likely that the majority of the population don't behave like the average Reg reader?
Agreed that adverts are a major PITA....especially how they ramp up the sound levels.