NBC's Ingenious Solution To Ad Skipping And Low Ratings: More Embarrassingly Unfunny Product Placement
from the dead-cash-cows dept
We’ve already talked a lot about how the cable and broadcast industry’s response to a changing TV landscape (ad skipping, dropping ratings, Internet video competition) is the ingenious one-two punch of mindlessly raising rates and making the viewing experience more annoying than ever. They’ve accomplished the latter in several ways, ranging from simply pushing more ads than ever before, or by even speeding up or editing popular programming to ensure more ads will fit in each viewing hour.
With ad skipping on the rise, ratings in free fall and lawsuits to stop ad skipping going nowhere fast, the broadcast industry’s latest ingenious solution is to also start including more in-show product placement:
“Moments before climbing into bed with supermodel Christie Brinkley, Donny Deutsch turns to the camera and tells viewers that a certain brand of vodka is perfect for the occasion. The scene is from Deutsch?s new comedy series ?Donny!? debuting next month on NBCUniversal?s USA Network. It?s the latest example of how TV shows, which have long avoided acknowledging product placement to their viewers, are becoming increasingly upfront about it, even turning it into a joke.
That sounds incredibly stupid to me, but maybe you had to be there. Now that consumers have more choices and improved ad skipping technology, they’re making their preferences clear, whether that’s Netflix or Dish’s Hopper ad-skipping DVR. Adapting to competition is still a foreign concept to the cable and broadcast industry, which is why NBCUniversal execs apparently believe that including stupid references to products that erode the quality of your series is the height of “creativity,” helping them better connect with Millennials:
“We see that happening at our company more and more often,” (NBC U ad exec Linda) Yaccarino said during an Advertising Week panel in New York. “You have to acknowledge the challenges with ad-skipping and lapses in measurement and break out in a more creative way.”…”Today’s young people are hip to what we do for a living,” (Donny) Deutsch said on stage during Advertising Week, which ended Oct. 1. “You’ve got to let them in on the joke.”
Yeah, but hawking vodka just isn’t funny. The real joke is that your valued young target audience is increasingly no longer watching your show on traditional TV to begin with, and you believe having stars peddle more hummus is the answer. Shoving more ads down the throats of your viewers isn’t creative, it’s desperate. And while advertisers may be willing to pay an estimated $300,000 per each placement, it’s a band aid on a major gash in the hull of the industry’s legacy cash cow. It’s also telling that the broadcast industry’s version of “creativity” and customer adaptation is bringing television advertising back full circle to the 1950s:
Of course, the solution for traditional cable and broadcasting isn’t to find a way to shovel more ads into less space, it’s to develop a better product and offer it in more convenient packages at a better price. Whether that’s a fair position to be in is irrelevant. The cable and broadcast industry’s traditional cash cow is dead. There’s no turning back the dial. The answer now is in developing new models going forward that finally, after a generation, give consumers what they want. Sadly, that’s going to mean having to (gasp) compete on price and probably make less money for a little while. But the alternative is letting companies like Netflix run away with the holy cash cow, leaving legacy cable a relic of a bygone era that could have adapted, but instead chose to stupidly keep making the same mistakes.