Is it fair for OTT platforms to show ads even after paying for a subscription?

OTT platforms

Is it fair for OTT platforms to show ads even after paying for a subscription?

Fair is quite a misunderstood word. Fair and unfair are quite subjective to the context and the respective people who are a part of the process.

In a day and age where avenues of advertising are continuously increasing and technology is taking center stage to show us new and innovative ways to take a brand or a product to more and more people, it’s important to be omnipresent.

The question is, is your TG acknowledging your omnipresence? Or rather, are they okay with the fact that you are literally everywhere? Answering these questions, as an advertising professional, will reflect some biases, but one thing we can all agree on is that too much of anything induces a redundancy-provoked irritation.

Ads are everywhere. On each screen, in newspapers, on billboards, in cinemas, in flights, on buses, in trains, etc. It’s almost impossible to not be advertised to. Ironically, if you can’t see, there are ads you can hear, and that too repetitively. To overcome this, we get subscriptions. The so-called ad-free models are a scheme of the media giants to classify subscribers as ‘premium customers’ among the masses who HAVE TO watch ads before they can watch what they came looking for. Believe it or not, only YouTube has stayed entirely true to the Subscription model by not showing ads before and during the video, Ad banners as well as overlay ads to customers who have paid a sum of ₹129 a month. This model becomes a huge barrier for brands and their effort to find potential customers from a platform as big and as widely used as YouTube. Paying money comes with its perks. Or is that merely a myth…?

I’m sure we all might agree that if we wanted to see our favourite shows on a TV devoid of ‘smartness’ or OTT apps, we’d be okay with watching advertisements; like we’ve been seeing before the OTT madness took over. But today, there are expectations we have from these OTT platforms. Expectations like early releases of films online, early access to featured shows and films, extended or directors’ version of films and shows, on-demand entertainment, and an ad-free experience.

What if you get them all but the last one?

  • What if you paid a sum of around ₹1000 for the best content curated from multiple sources from all across the world and still saw ads?
  • What if you paid a whopping ₹1500 and there was an ad break in between the show you’ve been waiting to watch since long?
  • Among all these what-ifs, there is one more that scares the living hell out of us.
  • What if each platform takes up this model of showing ads to subscribers and the concept of OTT starts resembling to cable TV model?

All that’s mentioned above, is from a subscriber’s point of view. Now let’s talk about it from an advertisers perspective.

As an advertiser, I want them to see ads, I want me to see ads, and I want us all to see ads. And not just ads that carry the persona of the protagonist in the narrative but ads that are smart, ads that intrigue and ads that convince us to spend money. But then again there’s a bias involved. 

I’d want viewers to watch a little story I cooked up in the midst of an interesting story they’re watching.

All in all, as an advertiser I’d love OTT platforms to show ads to premium customers who can afford to spend x amount of money for content, but as subscribers, we’d obviously be against it.

Quite the contradiction and conundrum, isn’t it?

The ball’s in your court to decide whether it’s fair or not, but then again the verdict lies with the media moguls and the desperation of brands as well as agencies to provoke these kinds of models. 

Until then, Adios from Rioconn. We’ll be back with more to connect with you.

Shrijay Parikh
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