Inside Entertainment: Quick Take 2021 Issue 5

If No One Sees Your Ad, Did It Even Run?

Consumer Ad Avoidance Makes Product Placement More Vital

ben digital issue

After steep declines in 2020 due to pandemic realities, ad budgets are projected to increase in every quarter of 2021. (IPG Magna) With ad avoidance at an all-time high, however, the question of where and how to reach consumers is again top-of-mind for marketers. Additionally, cable/satellite subscriptions continue to decline at accelerating rates as streaming services skyrocket. Consumers are voting with their wallets and choosing ad-free environments where commercials are nowhere to be found.

Following a year in which 15% of U.S. households cut the cord, cable cancellations are projected to nearly double to as high as 27% in 2021. (The Trade Desk) Meanwhile, UBS projects that 50 million net-new video subscriptions will be added this year, topping even the pandemic-fueled increases of 2020 when 28% of US consumers added a new streaming service.

Recent research from Branded Entertainment Network found that 81% of viewers skip, avoid, or ignore TV ads—and those numbers track across platforms. Digital pre-roll and other online video ads are met with similar levels of avoidance.

4 of 5 avoid/ignore/ skip ads

tv ads/ commercials81%
pre-roll/digital ads78%
other online video ads83%

Source: BEN Ad Avoidance Research, Apr’21 (I avoid/ignore/skip ads/commercials at least “some of the time”)

The fact is that 70% of viewers simply dislike TV ads. With messaging that takes audiences out of their viewing experience, commercials are driving consumers to take actions that tune out these interruptions.

Getting inside the content through product placement has proven to be an effective way of reaching unique, ad-averse audiences in a manner that drives both brand affinity and sales. Story-driven placements provide a means for marketers to build brand salience while doing something commercials have never been able to accomplish: keeping audiences engaged.


Our research has shown that people still enjoy commercial- driven TV content, just not the commercials themselves. With many linear (broadcast, cable, and premium cable) shows and films also being offered on streaming platforms after airing on TV networks, getting inside the content doesn’t just help avoid ad-skipping, it increases the life of your brands and products as well.

— Kristina Sing
BEN Director, Insights

in 2021

27% will cancel

cable subscriptions

50M net-new

streaming service subscriptions

in 2020

15% canceled

cable subscriptions

28% added

a new streaming service
Source: The Trade Desk; UBS

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