Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TV Ads Still Rule

Something happened the other day that made me hit the pause button. Literally.

I was watching TV, a show my wife and I had recorded on the DVR, and we were doing what everyone does--fast-forwarding through the ads. But something caught my eye, and I hit pause, rewind, and then viewed the ad.

And it hit me--people have always skipped ads, unless they haven't. When shows were aired live, people would go to the bathroom, get more to eat or drink, or talk to each other during ads. Today, they just use the technology that allows skipping or fast-forwarding through ads.

However, if an ads have certain merits, wait for it.....people....will....watch.

This is common sense, confirmed by several communication theories and concepts (media uses and gratifications, information utility, salience, etc.) and recently confirmed in a study reported in Advertising Age. The study, commissioned by Turner Broadcasting and Horizon Media, showed that TV ads outperform other media, including digital, when it comes to driving consumer sales. A natural assumption would be that TV ads do well for awareness, reputation, and other objectives as well.

So what might make people "take pause" and view an ad even in this multi-mediated, frenetic media world we live in? As the theoretical concepts mentioned above suggest, there are several:

  • visual appeal
  • relevant content
  • useful information
The take-away is that now more than ever advertisers can't live in the era of assumed audience. You have to lure them before a hook can be set. Also, as the study authors suggest, no once can live on TV alone. It has to be part of a strategic media mix that supplements radio, print, outdoor, and digital ads as well as earned media. 

Like anything else in media, TV advertising is not dead. It's just constantly changing. 

3 comments:

Mike Marn said...

This, of course, is not news to those of us in the business of trying to do work that grabs that attention.Three questions for you, though:

1) I MUST know - what is it that stopped you and made you rewind to that spot and watch it?

2) With the growing percentage of people following your reprehensible (yes, I'm kidding, mostly) lead of fast forwarding through commercials, do we in the ad biz have an added hurdle of making a spot memorable in some way at 10 times normal speed?

3) With DVR fast-forwarding, and all the recent turmoil over Internet ad-blockers (and websites denying content to those USING ad-blockers)do you ever reach a point where you will mourn the absence of quality content once society has successfully destroyed all incentive to finance said content? How many cat videos can you really watch on YouTube? :)

Tim Penning said...

Well, Mike, I don't remember what stopped me. That was way back in June when I wrote this original post :-)

I think advertisers have to think about salience and narrow casting in ads. It's not just TV, but social media, conventional and new media sites.

I agree that content matters--it has to be good content. And people will pay for that, eventually. We're in a period of 'creative destruction," but I think it'll settle out into smaller audiences and paywall content. Even "millennials" will eventually realize they can't get it all for free.

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