Coming Up After The Break: A Test To Make Sure You're Paying Attention

from the good-luck-with-that dept

Advertisers are clearly growing disillusioned with that old standby, the 30-second TV spot. This was clear in the fall “upfronts”, where the networks sell off their advertising for the upcoming season, and marketers held back money to spend on new-media ads, while those that are buying are demanding lower rates because they believe DVR users are skipping their ads. That’s part of the bigger problem with TV commercials: it’s difficult to get an accurate handle on how many people actually watch them and pay attention to the messages, whereas with online ads, it’s much easier to track viewers’ behavior. Advertisers are demanding a bit more accountability, so Nielsen recently said it would begin counting how many people actually watch ads, not just the shows around them. Now, Toyota’s signed a deal with NBC where the broadcaster not only promises to deliver minimum numbers of viewers, but also that those viewers are paying attention. NBC will use “audience engagement” data to show Toyota that people are actually taking its ads to heart, and if they don’t meet certain thresholds, they’ll give the company free ad space. This seems more like a desperation ploy than anything, since it doesn’t appear that NBC is doing anything to work with advertisers like Toyota to make their advertising more compelling, so people might actually want to watch it, instead of just grabbing those viewers without DVRs or who can’t be bothered to flip the channel during breaks. Promising viewers will pay attention doesn’t address viewers’ changing habits and behavior; without evolving how they approach advertising, NBC could have a hard time hitting those metrics.

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Comments on “Coming Up After The Break: A Test To Make Sure You're Paying Attention”

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Creative says:

Its true

I am the creative director at an advertising firm in LA and what Carlo says here is absolutely true. The portion of money that is used for TV media buying has gotten smaller and smaller each year- not beacuse clients are spending less, but rather spending more in other areas (primarily web).

There just is not the same response from TV advertising as there used to be.

Heh- if were lucky this will mean fewer commercials and weaker TV networks. Its a win-win!

Online Directory Man (user link) says:

Re: Its true

I am a rep for the leading online yellowpages and we have seen our numbers jump this year. I have one category that has almost doubled every month. more and more people are using online directories and making the space very valuable. We have some advertisers who are paying over 50K per month. The reason for this is the fact that we track everything, clicks, views, and even phone calls to the business. Every business knows exactly what its getting. Not only that we have a 45% conversion rate for every unique search.

JG says:

It Seems To Me

A) It’s easier to track people online

B) It’s easier to distribute online

C) There don’t have to be middle-men (local affiliates) online

So, why aren’t the networks just moving their programming online? They’re afraid of “theft”? The commercials are embedded in the middle of the damn show. Who wants to take time to pull them out?

And, as has been pointed out here continuously, it’s not “free” that people care about – it’s convenient. So, if I have a choice of going to my BitTorrent network of choice to track down a “commercial free version” or, I can just go to and download for free a version with commercials – well, I would probably go to CBS.

Musikaman says:

I was watching Star Gate SG1 the other night… and the first commercial at each break was a commercial for SG1 with one of the characters invloved. The commercials were entertaining too.

Instead of showing us a car lazily making it’s way through the country side, how about having some of the actors present the products. Make every single commercial different because it’s going to be taped at the same time as the show was. Have fun with it! And I gurantee people will pay more attention. And if you restrict my DVR… there’s always Myth.

eb says:

This is ridiculous

Are they going to propose that we can only watch TV from a special chair that will snap on wrist and ankle clamps when a commercial airs so we cannot move? This entire thing is absurd–you cannot force people to watch something they don’t want to watch. And even if you could, what makes advertisers believe that a literally captive audience will be in the least receptive to their advertisements?

What has infuriated me recently is the extending of commercials on TNT’s “hot” new shows, The Closer and Saved, so that 30 seconds of the commercial actually overlays the show. Sometimes it isn’t timed right, and you actually see the show start and then be replaced by yet another 30-second commercial. You are then returned to the show where the characters are in the middle of a conversation you never hear the beginning of. I don’t know if it is TNT or my cable provider causing this, but to say it’s self-defeating for both the advertiser and the network is an understatement.

KLZ says:

Product placement (embedded ads)

Isn’t this why they’re starting to put the ads in the tv shows? I saw a special recenlty where they talked about filming your favorate sit-com with an empty table, and then they go in later and digitally ad a box of say Wheat-Thins on the table. And the beauty of the ad is then, 6 months from now, in a re-run, they take out the Wheat-Thins and put in what ever the newest type of chip, cracker, soda, whatever is…so the advertisers get to use the same spot for virtually unlimited numbers of products, assuming the show does well in syndication later.

And there’s the Coca-Cola cups in front of Simon, Paula, and Randy on Idol, the Toyota Tundras driven by the contestants on Treasure Hunter, and I’m sure that list can go on and on, as well.

TV ads aren’t dead, they’re just getting sneakier. So, why not just take out the regular ads now, and fill our shows with ads we don’t even realize we’re watching.

AMP says:

Re: Re:

I would imagine that therein lies part of the hurddle for networks. Removing ad space means a true clock hour of programming. Meaning longer hours for actors and production crews etc. Coorelating to, I am sure, even higher salaries for the actors. Meaning the networks will likely have to charge more for ads. And telling an advertiser that you are not only changing a LONG standing paradigm but also charging more for it, would likely be the subject of debate. Not that it cannot be done, I can jsut see how there would be some hurdles to overcome.

David says:


My research leads me to these numbers:

US Population: 295.73 million

99 million households have a TV

Average household size: 2.5 people

Thus- 84% population watches TV

Number of DVRs in US: ~9 million (guestimate)

Number of households with a DVR: 9%

Number people watching TV with a DVR: 66 million or

22.3% of population.

Thus 61.5% of US population don’t watch using a DVR, or just don’t watch period.

My gut feeling is that the number of DVRs is fewer. In any case, the problem (with viewers skipping comercials) is only with about 9% or less of the TV viewing public.

MindTrigger says:

I love the show 24, but they are complete product placement whores. I get a kick out of each season seeing which brand of vehicles they will be driving. CTU will be driving all Chevys one season, and all Fords the next. The computers went from all Dells to black plastic HP’s with giant logos on the backs of the monitors so you could see them in every shot. I’d love to see Alienware im there next year.

Lost even found a way to do a little of it. Towards the end of the season there was some comment made about Starbucks. It was totally out of place. However, I love Starbucks, and I ended up going down for a Frap after the show.. hahaha. Hey, at least I recognized the product placement. Imagine how many people bought starbucks and didn’t even think about what planted the seed….

Anonymous Coward says:


And this is why I love watching football (soccer)… no interruptions until halftime (which is conveniently long enough for a quick snack and restroom break) and then another uninterrupted 45 minutes of heaven. Then the TV can go back to its normal routine of sitting around in the “off” position (assuming there’s no extra time).

Helmut Redermeier says:

Commercials on TV (Commercialvision)

I am one of many who are turning away from TV. The advertising industrie has oversold its products. There is now more commercials then actual show on tv. I as user now pay a cable or sattelite company to be annoyed with endless commercials many timme as many as 10 or more in a row. My wife and I watch now only about 1-1/2 to 2 hrs a day. The more i am houndet by sponsors the less i will buy their product. After seeing the same commercial 3 times in 1/2 hour i feel the company assumes that i am mentally retarted. I will not buy a new tv. It is a waste of money.


Startled again by a @#$$ Commercial. says:

How not to gain customers!

I would like to state for the benefit of the Ad execs that are (hopefully) reading this thread that YELLING IS NOT COMPELLING!

I am personally SICK and TIRED of turning UP the TV to be able to hear the show only to have half the frelling commercials SCREAMING at me.

You think Tivoing over the commercials is bad? The result of literally yelling at your potential customers is MUCH worse!

First, I have to hurry and mute the message, then I write down the name of the offending product or service because I now have a personal policy of NEVER buying a product or service that has yelled at me.

So, there you go It doesn’t matter if you call it “companding” or “dynamic range stuffing” or “sound optimization” or whatever, it turns it into an ANTI- commercial.

I hope everyone else will adopt this policy. Tell all your friends!

Lost Fan says:

Online Shows

I don’t know how many Lost fans there are here, but Last season, you could go to and watch the episodes whenever you wanted to with embeded unskipable commercials and you know what? That was fine. I could watch Lost from any internet enabled PC in the world any time I wanted! Every show should give you that option, it’s just so damn hard to be home and ready to watch Lost every Wednesday at 9!

Elton says:

Re: yelling

Yelling is bad enough, but they up the volume on all the commercials so that when people leave the room durring them they can still hear them. What this really means is that since i’m often doing something else while the tv is on if they would just leave the volume alone I would leave them on but the jarring sound makes me grab the remote anyway so i might as well just fast forward.

AnonymousCoward2 says:

throw your TV away.

What the networks are really afraid of is people like me who have stopped watching TV altogether. I don’t even own a TV anymore, and I gave my TV away. and I don’t miss it. Instead, I spend those hours that I would have devoted to TV engaged in entertainment where I have control: reading books and magazines, surfing the Web, etc. The problem with TV, even with stuff like TiVo and cable, is that it is the network that has much of the control over content, when a program is going to be aired, etc. But when one reads or goes online, you are in more control. Admittedly, the control is not complete, but 10 billion or so webpages are a lot more choice that even several hundred cable channels are.

Unfortunately for the networks,a growing matjority of the people who are still watching TV are those in their 50’s and older — not the coveted 18-34 demographic that the networks aim their shows toward. And where are the 18-34 year olds? Spending their time on the Internet, of course. No wonder MySpace is number one in online traffic.

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