Video advertising has its advantages:
That said, most video advertising is anything but targeted. If you’ve seen a few YouTube pre-roll ads – the ones that show up before the video you actually want to watch – you know they’re as annoying as Cena’s smirk.
But YouTube is one thing. It’s a free experience. And, overall, a great one. It literally has everything:
YouTube is free but one has to grasp the notion that such a great experience needs to be monetized somehow. At the end of the day, if YouTube makes money, we all win, because it keeps going.
Not to mention… you can skip most pre-rolls at the end of 5 seconds. I can’t get worked up about spam in 5 seconds. I’m a little annoyed, but that’s it.
Which brings us to the video ads – also in the form of pre-rolls – on the WWE Network.
What a wonderful idea.
You’ve paid nine… ninety-nine to bask in all the pro wrestling content you can handle. I’ve said it before, it’s a bargain.
But you did pay. And one of the (mostly) unspoken, unwritten bonds of digital paywalls is this:
That’s right. Unlike YouTube ads, WWE Network ads simply apply the anklelock with the grapevine and you’re in for 30 seconds of Burger King. No skipping.
We’re talking about a paid service giving you an advertising experience that is less caring to you as a user than that of a free service like YouTube.
It just sends the wrong message. On various levels:
Level 1 – You now cross your fingers, hoping you can watch NXT without having to hear about the Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger before you’re allowed in.
Level 2 – WWE videos on its very own premium channel are starting to come with a toll. And just like on the freeway, you have to go through it to get to where you want to go.
For my own personal business sense, it’s a little too much. But I’m obsessed with putting out a good user experience.
In a day and age when the WWE product’s quality is suspicious, to say the least, these are the sort of tactics I would avoid resorting to as cash-grabs.
They annoy the user and, often enough, make for unpleasant surprises. “What, you have ads now?”
In WWE’s defense, they were upfront about it (sending an email to all subscribers stating the Network would no longer be ad-free).
It’s not like wrestler entrances aren’t used for advertising purposes. And it’s not like we don’t see ads on pay-per-views.
Also in WWE’s defense, the overall reach of the advertising is limited. For example, there are no commercial breaks during scheduled programming.
So, while it’s annoying, it’s obvious we could be worse off.
Finally, for what it’s worth, the reasoning behind the decision to include ads on the Network is business-related. The suits want it to make money.
Do we “soldier” through ads for the sake of keeping a more than reasonably priced product (potentially) profitable?
Or do we point out there’s a reason Netflix has run away from ads like Brock Lesnar runs from live promos?
At the end of the day, it’s all about how good your user experience is. And how much you feel it’s affected by pre-rolls and other adverts.
So, over to you.