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
    Brooks (profile), 21 Apr 2010 @ 4:41pm

    Ugh.

    Ok, so I'm not wild about the idea. The value-add of watching someone get their makeup fixed seems very low, and like more of a novelty that might get people to watch an ad or two, not change behavior.

    But this post veers dangerously close to the negative stereotypes of Techdirt and associated sites: that there's a deep seated hatred for traditional media companies that goes beyond business.

    Shouldn't we be lauding CNN for experimentation, even if we also say that this particular idea seems unlikely to succeed? There's way too much "oh, those idiots are at it again, look at the incredibly stupid thing they did this time" tone around here. Which is often fair, as many companies act against their self interest. But it doesn't need to be applied in every single case, does it?

    Kudos to CNN for trying something different. Maybe there are other interesting experiments to be done.

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