When the television first came on the scene, it was arguably one of the greatest advertising mediums ever conceived. With more people watching television each passing year, advertisers and businesses jumped on the opportunity to market to the ever-growing number of new viewers.
Since then, the average consumer’s relationship with television commercials has been one of mixed feelings, ranging anywhere from annoyance to surprise. For the most part though, they’re still considered to be an inconvenience.
The Viewers Fight Back
When TiVo came around in the late 1990s, the game began to change slightly: Viewers had control over commercials, and could conveniently skip over them with the click of a button. While it helped make their lives a little more enjoyable, the caveat was that it resulted in greatly reduced revenues for television networks that relied on advertising to make money.
Over the next decade, numerous other Personal Video Recorder (PVR) devices and on-demand services such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, began to pop up. Although this hasn’t reduced advertising completely, there’s no doubt that it’s not only led to a decrease in television viewership, but also a decrease in advertising revenues as more and more people seek ad-free viewing mediums.
So Why Do Users Hate Commercials in the First Place?
Actually, they don’t! Although commercials can be an inconvenience, it’s safe to say that a good majority of television viewers and Internet users harbor no particular grudge against advertising as a whole. In fact, there are some occasions where a commercial will not only be relevant to its viewer’s interest, but will entertain them as well. To the viewer, these commercials seem less like pushy advertising and more like entertainment.
For example, consider Super Bowl commercials: During one of America’s most-watched television events, grabbing and keeping the attention of the audience is of incredible importance. Advertisers and marketers will go out of their way to ensure that their commercials are as entertaining and interesting as possible. Because of this, they’re not only incredibly effective, but are also half the reason why so many people watch the Super Bowl in the first place!
Making a commercial entertaining, however, isn’t the only way to make it effective. Another method growing in popularity is custom-tailored advertisements, which exist primarily through mediums such as Hulu and YouTube. By keeping track of what users are watching, publishers are able to display ads that are relevant to the user’s interest and viewing patterns. Many online ads are also interactive, allowing the user to have some role in how they’re displayed.
All of these different methods have resulted in far better advertising, as well as commercials many viewers actually want to watch! Looking at this trend, we’re able to accurately predict what may very well be the not-so-bleak future of advertising.
Relevant, Interactive, Entertaining, and Customized Advertising
It’s safe to say that people don’t necessarily dislike commercials, they just dislike uncreative, boring, and “bad” advertising. As online viewership steadily grows, there’s a good chance that televisions will either change entirely or simply develop a way that advertisements are shown to users based on the channels they’ve watched, similar to how online advertising works at the moment. Television advertising may also start to shift more towards non-invasive product and ad placement, such as having brands show up in episodes of shows or occasionally placing small ad banners along the bottom edges of the screen.
With more people online, it’ll be far easier for marketers to create specially-tailored ads that are not only relevant, but are also entertaining and interactive to a certain extent. With such a system in place, commercials and advertisements may not be so annoying anymore!
About the Author
Jennifer Carrigan wrote this article on behalf of 522 Digital, a creative agency that can help with your company’s advertising.