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Leave it to Madison Avenue to come up a way to get ad-fatigued TV viewers to tune in again. As consumers flock to on-demand and streaming entertainment services and content that are virtually commercial free, ad men and marketers are seeing light, as well as dollars, in the infinitesimal space between the “pause” and “un-pause” clicks on viewers’ remotes.

According to Variety, the weekly entertainment trade magazine and website, a number of streaming services are developing ad formats that would run when viewers pause while watching content. Hulu reportedly has plans to launch “pause ads” later this year, and anticipates seeing half of ad revenue come from what the company calls “non-disruptive experiences” over the next three years.

AT&T is also said to be pursuing pause ad platforms and, according to Variety, CBS has reportedly tested technology that allows advertisers add tailored messages to national commercials seen by viewers using certain connected TVs (CTVs).

The concept of “Pause-vertising” is based on the belief that viewers, at least theoretically, are likely to watch commercials that appear on screen during pauses they control, especially when binge-viewing, since they’re already committed to the experience. Viewability is further likely, companies like Hulu believe, when ads provide “a natural break in the storytelling experience,” according to Variety.

But convincing ad-adverse viewers may be another story. Sustaining their attention, media executives say, will require the following:

  • Hyper short-form commercials that deliver a message within a few seconds;
  • Ads that play off the moment videos are being watched or are tailored to particular consumer occasions; and
  • Featured brands that will be attractive to viewer demographics and tastes.

With billions being spent on streaming video rich in content, and competition from giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime exerting pressure on commercial-free content, pause ads may prove to be significant sources of income for media companies as well as marketers and advertisers in 2019.