The advertising industry is worried at the moment because it has seemingly just woken up to the fact that, quelle surprise, most people don’t like watching adverts!
The Internet Advertising Bureau announced this week that one in five of us is using ad blocking software when we go online. Things aren’t much better for advertising on TV with viewers increasingly recording their favourite shows and then fast forwarding through the ads.
You can’ really blame the viewers. Back in the 1970s, when ITV was the only commercial broadcaster, the amount of ads per hour was strictly controlled. But today, thanks to our lightly regulated multi channel TV world, many ad breaks can often seem longer than the programmes. Why should I spend two hours of my life watching Lewis when I can watch it in less than 90 minutes by skipping the ads?
Then there is the fact that many of us are now choosing to binge watch series on box sets rather than on broadcast TV. For example, I recently enjoyed series one of True Detective on blue ray; 458 minutes of drama without one single advertisement.
This is not just a problem for advertisers; it’s also a big headache for broadcasters. Apart from the BBC, all TV channels in the UK rely on advertising revenue as their main source of income. With audiences changing their viewing habits, broadcasters face a situation similar to the one which has caused havoc in the newspaper world; falling audiences leading to falling ad revenues leading to closures.
So what can advertisers and broadcasters do? Targeted product placement might be one answer. Many programme makers are now using software which allows product placement to be tailored to the audience. The result is that when a character takes a bottle of beer out of the fridge viewers in the USA will see a local brand on the label, while viewers in Japan will see the label of a Japanese brewery.
Maybe broadcasting is about to be replaced by narrowcasting?