Cynopsis: What research led to your taking this approach?
Chris Linn: The initial idea really stemmed from us looking for ways to create the best possible viewing experience on our air. We needed to find a way to declutter the air, which meant stripping down on a lot of non-programming elements – including our commercial pods. Working in close collaboration with our ad sales team and Joe Hogan, we did research that showed that reduced commercial loads resulted in higher intent to view, longer length of tune and greater ad recall. With that research in hand, we dove in and the results have been fantastic.
Cynopsis: For example?
Linn: Since we began reducing our ad loads in late 2016, we’ve seen an increase in our length of tune, which in turn has also had a positive impact on our ratings. We have delivered two years of consistent growth among key demos – and we’re one of only three networks to do so.
Cynopsis: How have advertisers reacted?
Linn: The response from advertisers who have partnered with us to buy ads in the reduced-ad format has been very positive. Not only do shorter commercial pods provide a better environment for their ads, but we have also commissioned custom research that proves that brands featured within limited-commercial interruption have seen an increase between 4-16 times in actual product sales. We know that this format works and the advertisers with whom we have partnered know it, too: we have a near perfect renewal rate (92%) among LCI partners, even with increased CPMs.
Cynopsis: Have you determined the “sweet spot,” where running fewer ads increases revenue?
Linn: To be honest, I think that exact sweet spot remains to be seen. It’s a pretty drastic shift in approach as we’re asking people to think and buy differently. It will be largely driven by what the market will bear, and with the most robust offering available in the industry, we’ll continue to fine-tune as we go on. But ultimately it will be dependent upon the market embracing it.
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