How To Get People To Watch TV Ads: Don't Stop The Program While You Show Them

from the good-luck-with-that dept

TV broadcasters have long struggled with how to deal with DVRs and how they allow users to skip over commercials. Perhaps the favored approach has been to come up with technological responses to try and prevent people from fast-forwarding; fewer companies have figured out that advertising is content, and needs to be treated as such. Viewers need to be given a reason to watch ads, whether it's simply entertainment or because the content offers some other value. Another idea that's being tested: not stopping the show during ad breaks. On one show on CNN, when the ads start, the studio cameras keep rolling, showing "behind-the-scenes" footage in a small box in the corner. The belief is that if there's still some bit of "program content" going, it will be enough to keep people from flipping channels or skipping ahead, even if it is just paper shuffling and makeup being touched up. It's an interesting proposition, but once viewers realize they're not missing anything of value, won't they switch away or fast-forward? And if the program content actually is valuable, won't people just not pay attention to the ads? The problem here seems to be that this is just an effort to recreate a captive audience. But without offering anything of value to the viewer -- whether it's the ads themselves or this "program content" -- they're not going to stick around and suck up the ads.

Filed Under: advertising, dvrs, tv
Companies: cnn


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  1. icon
    Desco (profile), 22 Apr 2010 @ 7:40am

    How Cable Screwed Up.

    Over a dozen years ago, the cable companies already had the technology to be able to stream shows. Like the new Netflicks or podcasting, the shows we "subscribe" would be sent to us automatically and be saved to our set top boxes, and we could watch them at our leisure. Instead, cable (probably because of fears of the media companies) stick to the old "broadcast" model where if you aren't home when it airs, or if more than one show you want to watch airs at the same time, you're screwed. This is completely outdated, and as I said the technology to prevent this has been in place for over a decade. (I've had cable modem service for what, 15 years?)

    Commercials can be shown in the menu while we're deciding what to watch, or after a show is done, show commercials until we reactivate the menu. As it is, my current DVR goes back into the menu when a show is done, and the menu screen sits there doing nothing while I get up for a snack, or while I'm waiting for the girlfriend to get back from a wee. Hell, when I pause the show to answer the phone or talk to someone, show ads while the content is paused-- I might be more inclined to pay attention to commercials because I'm not currently engaged in the content! Instead they stick to interleaving commercials between content and because when I'm watching content all I want is content, I definitely want to skip commercials to get back to the content.

    If they really want to stick to this model, maybe make the DVRs just a little bit smarter-- instead of blindly skipping 30 seconds, where I might skip into the middle of some ad I don't care about (or worse, skip into the middle an ad that I might actually watch but because it's in the middle I don't know what it's for) skip to the beginning of the next commercial. That way, commercial makers are guaranteed that the first second of a commercial WILL be seen, so they can put all their eye-catching images/phrases there so I can decide immediately if I want to watch or skip the commercial.

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