Ubaid Zargar
Advertising

Incentivised ad viewing - will it stay?

In a bid to engage audiences with their ads, advertisers have adopted the incentivised model of advertising, rewarding consumers for watching ads. This style of advertising is prevalent across platforms, including OTT and music streaming services. We take a quick look at the model.

If you are on YouTube and come across an ad, you probably rush to hit that 'Skip ad' notification. If you are streaming music online, you have probably frowned upon the audio ads that hit your ears after a few songs. But what if you were rewarded for watching or listening to these ads?

Platforms and brands alike have adopted a different strategy to engage audiences with their advertisements – by incentivising their viewing. With this tactic, while the advertisers can ensure the ad garners proper attention, audiences benefit from the perks as well.

A few days ago, Google Pay revealed incentive offers for its users, who could claim rewards if they spotted a Google Pay ad on television or YouTube, and let the app listen in.

Google Pay reward ads
Google Pay reward ads

A while ago, Spotify offered a similar bargain by enabling its non-premium subscribers to access ad-free music streaming if they watched Opt-in video ads – dubbed 'Sponsored Session'. The ads would usually last 15 to 30 seconds.

Spotify's opt-in video ad introduction
Spotify's opt-in video ad introduction

Reward based advertisements have infiltrated the gaming space as well, with gaming apps allowing bonus points or in-game rewards in exchange for watching ads. For instance, popular mobile game Angry Birds has taken this route of advertising in the past by offering in-game rewards if the players watch video ads in return.

Angry Bird in-game reward ad
Angry Bird in-game reward ad

While many advertisers have banked on reward based advertising, the model on its own does raise a few questions regarding its efficiency.

We reached out to industry experts to understand the pros and cons of this model.

Amod Dani
Amod Dani

Amod Dani, executive creative director, Leo Burnett Orchard, is of the opinion that incentive advertising is effective in the short term, but in the longer haul, could fall short of appeal. Pointing out the perks of incentives, Dani reckons, “People are always looking for incentives and offers. Do note we live in an era of cash back. And who doesn't love cash back! Rangoli sticker anyone?! So what if a commercial is actually rewarding? Well, not many viewers would say no to it.”

Then, why wouldn't it sustain in the future, we wondered. Dani adds, “The novelty factor might keep this going for a bit. But in the long run? I am not so sure, since people are actually looking to watch content. More and more people are pressing the skip button.”

Commenting on the perceivable drawbacks of the model, Dani suggests, “The biggest con I see is that it won't be meaningful consumption. People will see the ad not because they want to, but just because they are going to get paid for it.”

We asked Dani if the ads would require a different make-over, if they are to be incentivised. He answers, “Absolutely. If we are actually giving a tangible incentive to the viewer for watching the ad, the narrative has to be different. We will have to craft stories that latch on to this interaction. Remember when the skip button first came on the pre-roll ad? Many brands rewrote their communication to make it memorable."

Abhineet Pathak
Abhineet Pathak

We spoke to Abhineet Pathak, chief executive officer and founder of Vaoo, the Mumbai based car aggregator company that offers free rides to passengers in return for viewing advertisements on the app – a prime example of incentivised advertising. Pathak points out that the advantage of incentivised or reward advertising is removal of spamming from consumer's life.

Speaking about the efficacy of the model, Pathak opines, “With data-driven marketing using first-hand data, we believe this is going to be the most effective way of advertising and possibly the future of advertising. We are trying to address the issues of present day advertising like spillage, lack of transparency and no clarity on conversion.”

We asked Pathak if there was any different requirement for creating incentivised ads. He answers, “There is no different requisite for the ads and the beauty of this model is that there is no autoplay or forced consumption of ads.”

Chraneeta Mann
Chraneeta Mann

With incentivised advertising finding increasing relevance, Chraneeta Mann, co-founder, The Mob, says that "...there is a level of efficacy that goes with it. Unlike conventional advertising platforms, this does help to build a more positive association with the brand by bridging the engagement with a gift." Pointing out the stand out differences in the model, Mann says, "It also takes away the factor of being bugged by ads you are 'forced' to see. Making that shift to ads you are 'rewarded' to see. Its been there for a while now whether through in app gaming life rewards or cashbacks."

Answering a question about the future of reward ads, Chraneeta suggests, "It is all about monetising the person's time and telling him that you understand it is valuable. Outdoor print and transit are really quite expensive as mediums to reach out to the audience and even after that spend one is a bit unsure about whether you really reached the right person for your brand, or did it cost you a huge spillover to get to him. Digital advertising has an arsenal of ad forms, but is constantly facing ad blocking and looking for ways to circumvent that. This is an ad solution on digital that will not be blocked but welcomed by the person browsing."

While Mann credits the model with higher completion rate of ad views, she suggests the motivation to engage with such ads is not emotional for the audience. " ...to the audience it is just a means to claim rewards. There have been cases where the rewards were cleverly integrated as a further promotion for a product. Such as Spotify rewarding ad viewing with 30 minutes of uninterrupted music, which in turn promoted their ad free music streaming. Quite ironic at the same time."

At the crux of regular advertising versus incentivised advertising, Chraneeta says, "Incentivised ads are opt-in and non intrusive", and hence, welcomed by the viewers.