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. identicon
    Michael, 22 Apr 2010 @ 7:54am

    Re: Surely there can be life without ads??

    Unfortunately, you are turning the broadcast TV industry business model (arguably not working that well) into the Movie industry model - which also no longer really works.

    If we do what you are suggesting, what is to stop "pirates" from recording the show and re-broadcasting it on the internet for free? Yup - the old IP laws. They are falling apart and causing all kinds of problems.

    An ad-supported model is using the content - which is an unlimited resource because it can be copied - and turning the attention of the viewers it attracts into something that can be sold to advertisers. Sell physical goods by attracting people with virtual goods - that business model works.

    The problem is they used to have a captive audience so they could simply stick ads in the middle of the content. They have lost this because of technology and need to come up with another plan. Trying to turn the virtual goods into something they can sell goes against economics (if the supply is infinite, the price will fall to zero).

    I think the approach of running content behind the commercials is creative and suggests new thinking. It may not work, but it is admirable that they are trying.

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