NBTV: Fixing The Broken Video Ad Model

Recreating Video Advertising For Connected Commerce

No one watches the commercials anymore.

Video-on-demand services more often than not don’t have them at all. Most of us can find something else to do for 30 seconds until we can tell YouTube to skip the ads and start our video. Even when watching good old-fashioned television, the ability to pre-record means most of us fast-forward right on through them.

With the rare exception of perhaps the Super Bowl, no one really likes watching advertising, particularly when it is the thing interrupting what they want to be watching. This is why, NBTV CEO and Chairman Nick Buzzell told PYMNTS, interruptive advertising as we’ve all known it historically is “on life support” as of 2021 — as consumers annoyed by the interruption are blocking, skipping and ignoring these ads as they’ve never been able to before.

It’s a shame, he said, because video-based advertising is in fact the most effective form. It is most able to do what effective marketing needs to: make a connection with the consumer. And it is critical as consumers are increasingly driven to buying on digital marketplaces, where decisions are basically made along two axes: price and reviews. When those don’t do it, most consumers seek an expert opinion — a friend, family member or colleague whose opinion they trust.

The ability to leverage video more effectively as an advertising channel, in a way that doesn’t rely on interrupting the consumer, is going to be a critical component in reaching consumers and forging that emotional connection that helps brands “rise above” and distinguish themselves, he said.

“I think we see that now more than ever, brands in any category, any vertical need to stand out in these digital marketplaces, and the only way to do that is through storytelling, through giving the consumer that emotional connection and being able to tell a brand story,” Buzzell said. “Not just one time because anyone can buy something once, but to have customers feel connected to that brand.”

NBTV believes the best way for brands to make those connection is via video — but not through abusing them through commercials, Buzzell said. Instead, offerings could look like the Spirits Network, designed to be a one-stop shop where spirits enthusiasts can watch interesting and educational content, buy instantly when they see products they like and leverage the site to “build and refine” their tastes via the site’s recommendation engine.

“I feel like what’s happening now is people are looking for a way to apply their tastes and apply their need for discovery to digital media and to the eCommerce ecosystem,” Buzzell said.

In the 1.0 version of eCommerce, he said, digital shelves dominated — totally non-experiential with only a brief description, thumbnail pic and perhaps a few reviews, all highly unlikely to connect with consumers. In contrast, he said, eCommerce 2.0 will be all about making connections and the inventive ways brands find to make those connections on a deeper level.

NBTV is excited to be entering this emerging field, he said, because it is where the firm believes digital advertising has to go.

Video advertising needs to find new and better ways to recreate video marketing for the modern connected economy, as consumers no longer want to watch ads because they’ve been ambushed by them, he said.

The need is great, he said, and while NBTV does not believe it can be “everything to everyone,” it does believe it is possible to construct a new category and rewrite the future of video marketing to be responsive to a new era and age of consumer need. It’s a tricky path to walk, mostly because the firm is cutting it as it goes forward.

But if NBTV can build a single environment where consumers interact because they’re being entertained and transact instantly when they spot something they want, Buzzell said he believes it will have essentially captured the “holy grail” of advertising in the digital age: being able to directly correlate advertising content with actual sales.

“We believe we’ve really built a new category here,” he said, “and that this is a trillion-dollar opportunity approached in the right way.”