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SBS Introduces Ad-Blocking for Gambling, Alcohol, and Fast Food Ads

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In a bid to uphold responsible advertising practices and offer greater control to its viewers, SBS, the hybrid public broadcaster, is set to introduce a groundbreaking feature on its digital streaming platform, SBS On Demand.

Announced at the broadcaster's recent Upfront event in Sydney, this initiative will enable users to block certain types of ads, specifically those related to gambling, alcohol, and fast food. The feature is scheduled to roll out in the first quarter of 2024.

SBS's Commitment to Responsible Advertising

James Taylor, SBS's Managing Director, emphasized that this move is not a response to impending legislation on wagering ads but rather a commitment to provide audiences with more control over the content they encounter on the platform.

Audiences have complete control over the content they choose to watch on streaming platforms, and we'd like to give audiences a degree of control over the ads they see as well.

James TaylorSBS's Managing Director

The choice of these three ad categories was logical, as they tend to generate strong opinions among viewers. This step is seen as a significant stride towards enhancing personalized services and demonstrating SBS's commitment to responsible advertising practices.

Taylor explained, "We are providing audience members the opportunity to tell us that they don't want to see ads in one of these categories, and I think that's a really positive demonstration of our commitment to audiences." He clarified that this approach is not a judgment of the products but a way for commercial clients to avoid advertising to individuals who have problem gambling or other addictions.

Industry Leaders Support the SBS Initiative

Endeavour Group and Tabcorp, major players in the drinks and wagering industries, have expressed their support for this innovative initiative. Vanessa Sanford, Tabcorp's General Manager of Marketing and Media, lauded it as a move that ensures advertising reaches a receptive audience. Jo Rose, Endeavour's Chief Marketing Officer, emphasized their commitment to maintaining a culture of industry leadership in responsible service and marketing of alcohol.

Unlike the national broadcaster ABC, SBS generates significant revenue through commercial avenues, alongside government funding. The broadcaster's recent annual report revealed a 12.7% increase in revenue from advertising, sponsorship, and client services, reaching $173 million in the 2022-23 financial year.

Despite SBS's relatively lower ad load of approximately five minutes per hour, significantly less than its commercial competitors, this new feature could potentially impact revenue from some of the nation's largest advertisers. For instance, fast-food giants like McDonald's and KFC were among the top spenders on advertising nationally in the first half of 2023, according to Nielsen Ad Intel.

The gambling sector, which has significantly increased its marketing and advertising expenditure over the past decade, may also be affected. In 2022, gambling companies spent $310 million on advertising, with half of that amount allocated to commercial television. While SBS's limited coverage of major sporting events reduces its exposure to revenue losses from wagering firms compared to networks like Nine and Seven, coverage of events like the FIFA Men's World Cup can provide a boost.

Viewer Empowerment

In conclusion, SBS's move to empower viewers with ad-blocking controls for gambling, alcohol, and fast-food ads demonstrates its commitment to responsible advertising practices and viewer empowerment.

While there may be potential commercial impacts, SBS views this as the right step forward and anticipates the evolution of similar features across all platforms. Users of SBS On Demand can express their interest in the beta version of the opt-out function, ensuring that they continue to enjoy their streaming experience with the same number of ads from other categories.

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