The Skippable Era: 5,4,3,2,1 Go…


As a student at UT’s Moody College of Communication, I am exposed to many amazing opportunities and professionals with vast experience in the industries of journalism, media and public relations just to name a few. This past week, I had the privilege of attending a lecture by Christopher Ferrel, the Director of Digital Strategy at The Richards Group for one of my courses, Technology, Marketing, and Advertising. After listening to his presentation, I was mesmerized by his concept of a new era that is bound to change the course of digital advertising. The Skippable Era, as he classifies it, is characterized by a feature we all love and embrace; the skip button. To better understand how marketing trends and consumer engagement have shaped digital practices of our current era, Chris poses three essential questions for advertising gurus to consider.

1. Should your advertisement be skippable or non-skippable?
2. Can you measure the value of a skipped advertisement?
3. Does your creative work in the skippable era?

Skippable vs. non-skippable:
It may be surprising to hear that ads that give people the power to skip them are actually growing revenue for companies much more than non-skippable ads. Skippable ads are predicted to dominate by the year 2021, as the trends mark that revenue will rise exponentially while non-skippable revenue plateaus. To break this fact down, let’s analyze the 2 consistent emotions of ad viewers and how this impacts our attention and motivation to look into a product or service; anger and joy. While 82% of people experience anger when viewing an ad, 9% of people experience joy. This 9% is what we want to capitalize on by giving audiences the option to take time to watch an ad or not. Since advertising is an industry completely reliant on the consumer, it is important that we monitor the preferences of the public and adjust our practices to their behaviors.

Measuring value:
The value of an ad is measured in the length of the content. For every second that someone views your ad, the value rises in terms of attention and possible brand loyalty. The focus of investing in advertising to target consumers today is shifting from the number of clicks content may get to how long the content can reach the audience. Chris suggests that the currency of this skippable era therefore is time and how much of it is spent on viewing provides a gauge for advertisement value. To measure value of skippable ads specifically, we must account for how much the choice to watch these ads quantifies interest in a product or service.

Does Your Creative Work:
In the face of the rift between skippable and non-skippable ads, there is a push to grab the attention of viewers faster than ever. In the 5 seconds, companies have to reserve consumers’ attention until they are given the choice to continue with their content or the ad is crucial to promoting a product or service. Chris mentions that there are certain strategies we can identify of successful ads that urge the viewer to stay hooked. These include anticipation of what the ad may contain post 5 seconds, a challenge which produces a two-sided conversation or activity with the ad, a playground space that personalizes the ad in relation to the viewer, clear purpose most often achieved through an appeal to pathos and hero benefit.

With all these effort and creativity put into any particular work, in this case, advertisement, what is required is the right exposure and knowledge about how to get more followers with influencer marketing, lest the business shall suffer due to lack of visibility and face several imperdiments in its path.

With these questions in mind, it is hard to say that non-skippable ads have much of a productive future in the space of consumer-driven media. It is also not surprising to hear that big companies such as Youtube plan to remove non-skippable ads from their platforms starting as early as 2019. Ad blockers have taken a stronghold on advertising revenue and will only continue to grow depending on how agencies employ their strategies of reaching consumers without popup content. Overall, you may take two messages from Chris’ presentation on the skippable era. Either advertisers just need to get to the point with non-skippable ads, or they must adjust to the consumer’s want for creative and engaging content in 5 seconds or less. The power is in your hands.

To see the data behind Chris’ claims and view the slides from his “Skip Button Love Affair” presentation originally given at SXSW 2017: