Live Commercials Work Because They're Entertaining

from the advertising-is-content dept

One of the points we've been making for years is that advertising is content. That is, as people have more and more media options, advertisers can no longer assume they have a captive audience who will watch ads because they have nothing better to do. Rather, advertisers have to make their ads entertaining, so that people will want to watch them. The latest example of this is a New York Times article about how TV networks are bringing back the live commercial. For example, Jimmy Kimmel has been doing amusing live pitches for Nikon, Pontiac, and Quiznos on his late night show, and Jay Leno hosted a silly American Gladiators segment on his show to sell Klondike bars. Hollywood executives have a bad habit of viewing commercials as the spinach viewers have to eat in order to get the content they're actually interested in. But these examples illustrate that commercials don't have to be boring. With a little ingenuity, and funny pitchmen like Kimmel and Leno, commercials can be made interesting enough that consumers are actually interested in watching them. Part of the reason people hate commercials is that they're so repetitive, but live pitches can help break up the monotony by performing the pitch differently every time. And once commercials are actually interesting, the TiVo "problem" goes away, because even most consumers who have PVRs with commercial-skipping functions won't use them because they're actually interested in watching the commercials.

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Filed Under: ads, advertising is content, commercials, entertainment, live commercials, television


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  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 23 May 2008 @ 12:00pm

    Please, Just Charge Me

    The only reason we have to have ads at all is because people are too darned cheap to just pay for shows. How much would each viewer have to pay for a half-hour of TV to replace the revenue of sitting through ads? 20 cents? Less?

    But no, people value their time and free thought so little that they'd rather be told to go to Subway by Jared 4 times a night and save their 20 cents.

    I wish there were a business model where people who actually valued their time could simply pay for content the simple way...using money instead of eyeballs. Oh, wait. There is. The Internet has enabled it.

    Finally, we have things like Amazon Unbox, the Apple content stores, DVDs. The price is a little high, but I'm happy to pay to avoid ads.

    I've got a Tivo Series 3, which means I already skip commercials. I see how that fails to support the content. But the solution of slipping crap into the 'art' scares me (this sentence brought to you by Carl's Jr.) Instead, my Tivo 3 also connects to Amazon Unbox. I missed a couple of episodes of "House", so I bought them on Amazon Unbox using my laptop and "patented one-click technology". 5 minutes later, they were available on my Tivo -- all 40 minutes of them, with no ads!!

    In ongoing praise of this service, let me add: no ads, no previews, no trailers, no coming attractions, no FBI warnings. Just the content. Take a second to think of how rare that user experience is.

    Heck, it was worth the $2 per episode, and was a better experience than having to "drive" with my Tivo remote in order to skip ads.

    Sadly, I am the minority, and the pay-for-content business model will not fully replace the lost revenue of PVR ad skipping. The "ad as content" effort will grow. I will have to sit through crap, because that's what Americans will vote for with their wallets.

    On the other hand, it won't be the worst thing I've had to endure because the majority of Americans voted for it...twice. And TV is substantially less important than the other thing.

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