Make it stop! How to handle that one streaming ad playing on repeat. (2023)


7 min



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For months, I have been haunted by pulverized plant powder.

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Over and over again when I watch YouTube, I see an advertisement encouraging me to gulp down a powdered nutrition mix.

The first couple of times I saw the ad, I was mildly curious. Now I’m just exasperated.

You, too, might know the scourge of ad repetition on YouTube or streaming services such as Hulu or Tubi.

Seeing the same ad over and over has been an issue for a long time, especially in streaming video, and it’s not getting better.

In a recently released research study, 87 percent of respondents said they saw too much of the same ad on streaming services at least some of the time.

“The massive over-frequency of ads on streaming services is a big problem, it is getting worse, and it is preventable,” said Dave Morgan, CEO of Simulmedia, which helps companies buy streaming video ads.


I’ll explain why your exhausted eyeballs are exposed to that same ad on blast and what you can do to MAKE IT STOP.

Those repeated streaming ads (usually) aren’t on purpose

Specialists in advertising and online video said there are two fundamental reasons behind repeated streaming video ads.

First, advertisers are trying to use streaming in the ways they use Facebook ads and it’s not working.

Let’s say a car company wants to show its minivan ad 200,000 times targeted to men in California with kids. There might be millions of people who are right for that ad on popular apps like Facebook or the vast sea of websites.

But on a streaming video service, the potential pool is smaller. (For comparison, Facebook and its Messenger app have about 200 million daily users in the United States and Canada. The most watched paid streaming service, Netflix, has about 75 million subscribers in those countries.)


That means the same relatively small number of California dads might see that minivan streaming ad repeatedly, said Ross Benes, a senior analyst for the research firm Insider Intelligence.

A second underlying problem is there are so many companies involved in selling streaming ads that it’s hard for them to keep track of what ads you’ve already seen.

Many streaming services put limits on the number of times you see the same ad. But if you’re watching the Pluto TV streaming service on your internet-connected “smart” TV, the same ad might be blasted out by Pluto, the smart TV company and automated ad-selling middlemen.

Each party doesn’t necessarily share that you’ve seen that ad before, said Brian Wieser, a longtime advertising industry executive who is now the principal of strategic consulting firm Madison and Wall.


Seeing the same ad over and over isn’t a great experience for you nor for the companies pitching you.

People who saw the same commercial six times during a streaming binge tended to remember the company behind the ad. But they also were more likely to find the ad “annoying” and lost interest in buying the company’s product, according to research from advertising firms Magna and Nexxen.

The cheapskate's guide to digital entertainment

Four ways you can limit ad repeats

First, be a Karen.

When you see that one commercial again and again, complain on social media or directly to the streaming service. (Try searching online for the name of the streaming service plus “contact support.“)

Morgan said that streaming services are worried more than ever about people quitting, and they notice when you vent about repeat ads.

“If people switch services because of bad ads, the services will fix that,” Morgan said.

Everyone is angry about streaming right now

Second, Benes suggested mixing up the streaming services you use.


If you hop from Hulu to Peacock to Tubi, you will probably spread out the types of ads you see. “Three different ads annoying you a little bit are better than one ad annoying you a ton,” he said.

Third, if you can afford it, you can pay more for a subscription without commercials on services like Netflix, Max (formerly called HBO Max), Disney Plus, Hulu and Peacock.

Other streaming services only give you the option to watch free with ads, including the Freevee streaming app from Amazon, Tubi, Pluto TV and the Roku Channel.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Interim CEO Patty Stonesifer sits on Amazon’s board.)

Fourth, try adjusting your settings.

Most smart TVs and streaming TV gadgets like those from Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV collect information on your viewing habits, partly to target ads. Consumer Reports has a guide to turning off the personalized data-collection setting on popular smart TV brands.


Changing your TV settings might not stop repeat ads, Benes said. (When we spoke, Benes complained that he’s seen one Amazon Prime ad a bunch of times.)

On YouTube’s phone app, if you’re annoyed by repeated viewings of the same ad, tap on the three vertical dots to the right side of the video ad.

You’ll be directed to “My Ad Center.” There, choose the option for “Block ad,” and you won’t see that ad on YouTube again as long as you’re logged into your account. You still might see other ads from the same company.

One tiny win

There was a mini fury on Monday over a policy change from Zoom Video.

An update to the company’s terms of service appeared to give Zoom the right to use audio, video and chat transcripts from your video meetings to coach the company’s artificial intelligence software.

There are three things you need to know about Zoom’s policy update.


First, Zoom’s change only applies to organizations that use a new AI-powered feature for tasks like generating transcripts of Zoom meetings you missed. Most of you aren’t using a version of Zoom with this AI feature.

If your workplace is using AI-powered Zoom, the company clarified that the people who oversee the Zoom account can turn off the data sharing with Zoom’s AI systems. That’s a win!

Second, it’s likely that most digital companies are already using your information to train their AI – whether they say so explicitly or not in their terms of service. And unfortunately there is not much you can do about it.

Almost entirely without your true consent, the photos you have posted online and words from your personal website or Reddit posts have been used to develop AI such as ChatGPT. It’s a good bet that alternatives to Zoom including Google Meet are already training their AI with pieces of you.


The third lesson is that companies are terrible at explaining what they do with your personal information and for what purpose.

You might be okay with Google using data from your Gmail or websites you visit to train its AI systems to stop spam and scams from reaching your inbox. You might be okay with Netflix using data on what you watch to tune its AI-recommended videos. But most companies don’t usually give you a clear, explicit choice.

My colleague Tatum Hunter made a TikTok about Zoom’s AI-related policy change, which she compared to a stranger flicking your eyeball. You’re welcome.

@tatum_hunter “we will never do [insert here] without your consent” 🫠🫠🫠🤡🤡🤡 #zoom ♬ original sound - Tatum Hunter

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Why do streaming commercials repeat? ›

If you stream TV over the internet, chances are you've experienced a time when the same ad plays over and over again. In the marketing world, there has been research to support that messages are more effective when repeated. So, there is a concerted effort to show an ad or message to a person more than one time.

How do I stop getting the same ad? ›

Block an ad

With My Ad Center and About this Ad, you can block ads you don't want to see. After you block an ad, we'll do our best to make sure you don't see that same ad on Google services or partner sites while you're signed in to your Google Account.

Why do they play the same commercials over and over again? ›

The fact that it's remembered,even perceiving it to be an annoyance, proves that repeating the same commercial worked. It got someone's attention which ultimately is the goal of an advertiser. Cost to produce numerous ads can sometimes be a factor, but usually, it's a deliberate strategy to have the same one.”

Why are ads so repetitive? ›

Repetition in advertising is the process of repeating a message multiple times in order to increase brand awareness and consumer recall. While it may seem like a simple concept, repetition can be an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly.

How do I get rid of random ads? ›

Turn pop-ups on or off
  1. On your Android phone or tablet, open the Chrome app .
  2. To the right of the address bar, tap More. Settings.
  3. Tap Permissions. Pop-ups and redirects.
  4. Turn off Pop-ups and redirects.

Are there too many ads on streaming services? ›

Despite streaming presenting much lighter ad loads than linear TV, three-quarters of U.S. adults said streamers feature too many commercials. On top of that, consumers are irritated by the frequency with which they see ads, with 81% of the 1,045 respondents saying they see the same ads too many times.

Why do I see same ad all the time? ›

If this website uses the same advertising service as the one you had visited moments ago, the service gets he cookie back from your browser and gets to know what products or services you were interested in. You see ads of the same items you were looking at some time back.

Which streaming service has the most commercials? ›

Discovery+ and Hulu saw the biggest increases. Discovery+'s ad load grew 69%, to about 5 minutes per hour, while Hulu's jumped 38%, to 7.3 minutes per hour. MediaRadar shared numbers for standard commercial spots, which are the most common form of ads on streaming services.

Why does streaming have so many commercials? ›

The simple answer is revenue. While most of these places say it's their chance to access lower-income groups who might not want to pay as much every month, really it's a way to double-dip. You get people's cash, and you get payments from the advertising bodies.

Are TV commercials outdated? ›

TV advertising is far from being on the way out

Although purely personalized, digital advertising reaches the target group more precisely, it would be awful if that meant we'd miss out on Arnold Schwarzenegger as Zeus, king of the gods, and his bizarre ride in a BMW electric car.

Why do commercials play twice? ›

When a commercial repeats for a second time, which is called a bookend, it usually means it's going back to programming OR it's going to the local break of commercials.

Why some ads play on streaming services even when the TV is off? ›

According to GroupM, the reason that these ads keep playing is because TV-watchers who are using a streaming device typically turn off their television sets instead of taking the time to close their apps first (a practice that I, personally am guilty of).

Why does Peacock have the same ads? ›

Due to streaming rights, a small amount of programming, Peacock channels, live events, and a few TV shows and movies, will still contain ads.

Why do some commercials play for a second? ›

At certain moments during a commercial break, the local stations cut away from the network in order to air their own local commercials. Sometimes that happens a second or two late and a glimpse of the national commercial is seen before the local one cuts in. Nothing to be concerned about.

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