Paying More For Much Less: The New TV Commercial Strategy

from the 30-seconds-ain't-worth-what-it-used-to-be dept

As TV and ad execs fret about the fact that TV commercials aren’t particular effective these days thanks, in part, to things like TiVo and YouTube, it seems that some are discovering there may be more value in giving consumers less. That is, advertisers are recognizing they can get a lot more bang for the buck by giving consumers more of what they want (the actual content) and less of what they don’t (the intrusive ads). Philips is experimenting with sponsoring a few different shows, where part of the sponsorship means much more airtime for the shows, and fewer commercials (all from Philips, of course). Effectively, they’re buying up the commercial airtime, and using a large portion of it to give back to the show. It’s a strategy that makes some sense — recognizing that giving people more of what they actually want makes sense. It also works well for the early adopters like Philips who get an extra bump from stories like this one about the experiment. However, what will be more interesting is whether or not it still works for them long term. It’s certainly possible. By limiting an entire show’s advertisers to a single company, that company is much more likely to get its branding message across, even with much less time. That, in turn, should be valuable to both the advertiser and the network (who should also end up with happier viewers not forced to skip around as much).

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Comments on “Paying More For Much Less: The New TV Commercial Strategy”

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Hermenauta (user link) says:

Not a surprise. At the beginning, commercial TV was vastly proppeled by programs entirely sponsored by just one company. Here in Brazil there were a lot of news programs sponsored by companies, including foreign ones. But there were also incursions in teledramaturgy, programs to children, etc. I think the same thing happened in the USA, since our commercial TV business model was imported from there.

Brian says:

Sounds a lot like the old days...

If you listen to old-time radio, i.e., from the ’30s and ’40s, that was more of the model. There would be a single sponsor for the the show, and the only ads during the show were from that sponsor. Some shows, like the comedy Fibber McGee and Molly, would incorporate the ads into the show itself…

Dosquatch says:

Re: Sounds a lot like the old days...

I know, I know! We can take a round, rolly sort of thing, and attach it to this big, flat, sled sort of thing, and it’ll let us move stuff around a lot more easily! We can call them “Rollies”. Or “Easy rollers”.

Wheee, this is kinda fun! Maybe we can incorporate “Whee” into the name… “rollwhee”, or “rwheeolls”…. “WHEELS!” Hey, I like that!

*sigh* What’s that saying about everything old being new again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If all the comercials were like Target's

Agreed … some commercials are just annoying and insulting. I pay for Time Warner Cable and get an endless barrage of ads for VoIP, Cable TV and Internet – 2 of 3 services to which I already a subscribe ! The commercials are stupid, repetitive and condescending … and there’s at least one during every break.

I’m considering switching to satellite if they can guarantee I won’t see more than 1 TW commercial in 2 hours of viewing. Time Warner tells me I’ll pay more, enjoy less and have problems with support – but I might consider that a blessing if I just don’t have to have my brain turned to mush by their damned commercials.

Crucial says:

Online Episodes

This seems to be the way a lot of the networks present their online episodes of shows. I’ve watched a few full length epsisodes on ABC and NBC and both had a single 15 second ad for the same company about 3 times through the “hour” long television show.

Personally, I think it was a much more effective way of advertising. Not to mention I also noticed a few commercials inside the show as well. But I like being able to watch a television show rather than have to sift through 2-3 minutes of commercials for every 5-7 minutes of actual content.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Blinding Flash of the obvious...

Commercial breaks are pretty predictable in length and I would always change the channel or mute the TV and go do something secure in the knowledge that I had about 2 minutes or so before I needed to even check back, but if commercial breaks are suddenly (gasp!) reasonably short, and the commercials themselves are geared more towards being entertaining and informative rather than annoying and repetitious, then by golly, people are much more likely to watch.

Raise your hand if this wasn’t obvious to you…

Everyone’s hand is up? I thought so.

p.s. It’s even worse on radio where the commercial breaks are substantially longer.

Claudia says:

Re: Blinding Flash of the obvious...

I actually time what I’m cooking with the commercials. If TV is on in background and I need 2 minutes to let toast toast or a sauce sauce, I use the ads as my timer.

Re the other stuff — Aside from the obvious ‘harking back to Hallmark days’ to solve advertisers issues — can’t we all just agree that advertising is a normal everyday part of our very capitalist lives? What would you do if you were running NBC? Not run ads?

If people want PURE entertainment – go to a play, or a movie or a concert. (Come to think of it Broadway is running live skits – ads – before shows now.) I know — read a *book* by candlelight.


Michael Long says:

Flip side again

One potential drawback to a single advertiser is that it can give that company too much control over the show’s content, in effect giving them the power to censor anything they, their president, or their board might find objectionable.

To pick an extreme example: If WalMart was the sole corporate sponsor of 20/20, what do you think the chances would be of 20/20 taking a serious look into WalMart’s hiring practices, suppliers, health care policies, and so on?

Boris Jacobsen says:

Thank goodness for the BBC

Thank goodness for the BBC….

4 main TV channels (+ 2 kids channels, news channel, politics channel)

5 main radio stations (+ several digital only specialist channels + dozens of local stations around the UK)


Granted, it costs a couple of hundred of your UK dollars per household per year but just think about it….


And quality programmes and relatively unbiased news.
Well worth it, I say.
It has been this way for more than 50 years but the end is nigh as commercial interests lobby against this arrangement.

dwreid (profile) says:

More of less

Seems like a good idea. IBM and Xerox used to do this with special programming in the 70s and 80s. Christmas specials had only a couple of commercials but there were always IBM. Specials like The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman earned a lot of kudos for it’s single sponser, Xerox. I’m forced to wonder, however, if this means that we’ll be seeing more or less of those intrusive pop-up ads that run across the bottom of the screen pushing other programming on the same channel. Those alone make me stop watching.

gaseous clay says:

pure entertainment

If people want PURE entertainment – go to a play, or a movie or a concert.

Are you kidding me? I can’t go to the movies anymore without being bombarded for 15 minutes with ads! THat’s not including the ads they flash on the screen while the lights are still on and everyone’s filing into the theater. Then there’s the previews after that! You’d think with the 10 dollar ticket i bought they could afford to not annoy that crap out of us with more ads.

Anon says:

Comcercials Arn't So Bad

I don’t mind commercials too much, except when theres tons of them. Little things placed properly give you time to get something else done during an enticing show, and for people without tivo or dvr’s (most people for right now) the commercials help. Now I do think the quality of commercials should also be controlled, and less repetitive. What I also like is the channel to seem more live and interactive, like little updates with news or whatever, G4 has little game/gadet/tech news, blurbs in some programs, MTV does the mtv news breaks, Food Network does some helpful cooking tips and such, Little things like that help me stay on a channel longer, especially if the show is a re-run, which most are now days. The other thing is if I’m paying for watching these shows, I want it cheaper the more commercials I see, commercials are suppose to pay for this stuff, so the more commercials I watch then the lower my cable bill should be! Or better yet stop showing re-runs with all the fricken commercials.

Anonymous Coward says:

Anybody get TBS? Are there are a LOT of commercials on it!!

I started muting them a long time ago. (From a marketing standpoint I should still know what it’s about without hearing it… not always.) I started timing them not too long ago so that I’d know when to turn the sound back on (because they’re doing all kinds of things to fool you into thinking the show is going to start again like station i.d.’s) and it’s approx 6 mins of commercials and 7 to 9 mins of show. And that’s not just TBS.

“We interrupt these commercials for a program break.”

You guys that are getting 2 mins of commercials? Way to go. Count yourself lucky. We don’t just get your titilating crap, we get a load of ours, too.

If I give up any favorites they will wind up on DVD in a “whole season” pack. But… they’re loaded with crap at the beginning and the DVD programmers are stopping our ability to skip over them. I guess I resent being forced to watch them.

Chad Wildey says:

So there is hope?

What I don’t understand is A. How these white collar execs think that by beating someone over the head with the exact same message and jingle every 7 to 9 minutes is going to make me spend my hard earned cash on something I know I don’t want and B. How a station can say ‘yes, we approve torturous amounts of the exact same commercials every commercial break because we want more people to watch our station.’ IT DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE! If I want you to buy my car the last thing I’m going to do is drive it back and forth in front of your house screaming Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! until you give in. But your not going to give in! Your going to call the cops or take a shot at me yourself! How much more enjoyable would TV be if these ‘educated’ white collar morons realized how painful it is to watch thier stations. While this article sounds great, there isn’t really any hope. In the time it took me to type this FX’s Dirt promo’d the exact same promo 3 times. Kia’s ‘So long… farewell… al-freed-a-stain… goodbye…’ aired twice. Current boycotts: Comedy Central (Saving Silverman Central?), FX, TBS, and more to come.

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