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, 23 Apr 2010 @ 3:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Surely there can be life without ads??

    TV ad revenue is pretty good this year. There was a major dip last year when the US auto manufacturers had their issues, but, for the most part, the dipping economy has gotten a lot of people to stay in and watch TV. Selling their attention is still working (Mike can look at my IP address and tell you I probably know what I am talking about).

    How to ensure their attention during the commercials is up in the air, but the business model is still pretty viable.

    Your bottled water example is great. However, it illustrates the opposite of your point. People don't buy bottled water for the water. Bottled water is bought for convenience and (sometimes) social status. The abundant part (yup - the water) is important to adding value to the scarce part (yup - the plastic shell) and the combination generates demand.

    For an example, try selling water from a pump on the side of the road. Bottled water is a great example for the media companies, but they tend to think only in terms of the water being sold and completely miss the packaging.

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