Promotional Pioneers

Unless you watched March Madness on a Vizio this year, you probably missed the television manufacturer’s first original program, “3 Pointers,” which the company described as one of “the first examples of an exclusive branded content developed through a partnership and branded integration with an advertiser.” In other words, it was a show that was also an ad.

Hosted by an alumnus of Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food,” the Vizio-produced show featured branding from BET MGM in the bottom right corner of the screen for the duration of each episode in the four-part miniseries. Of course, calling it a miniseries is a bit misleading as the content played out more like a DIY video found on YouTube or Facebook. The show consisted mainly of short form drink and food recipes, the type of snacks and refreshments perfect for March Madness get togethers.

Vizio wasn’t the only one experimenting with new ad formats. On April Fool’s Day, Peacock released a comedic “commercial” for a new reality TV series in which several contestants share a house as they attempt to “find love,” the catch is none of them speak the same language, hence the reveal of the advertisement partner: Duolingo. The commercial may just be a parody of popular reality shows like “The Bachelor” or “Love Island,” but the advertisement is real, and it is just further proof of streaming providers pushing the boundaries of advertising with new techniques and tricks. Providers like Paramount+ and Discovery+ have already infused pause ads into shows on their platforms. These ads, which only appear if a user pauses a show, typically feature static QR codes or banners promoting other original shows on the platform. The inclusion of QR codes can also be seen in interactive ads, which typically play like a normal ad during a break, but they feature links or buttons users can click. Next? Streaming providers are experimenting and taking risks. The initial investment of a simple pause ad is probably not very high, and success metrics hinge simply on the number of clicks a particular link generates. However, Vizio and Peacock’s “reality shows” have a surprisingly high production quality. It will be interesting to see if Vizio continues its short-
form lifestyle original programming, maybe later this year during football season depending on how well execs think the “3 Pointers” campaign has done for them this month.

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