In-program ad tactics tackle clutter, but tick off viewers

MUMBAI: With the traditional advertising space on American television notching a record number of commercials per hour, advertisers and major US television networks are trying to break away from the prime time clutter by moving away from the advertising space and into the programming space.



As per the figures thrown up by a PhaseOne Communications study, American television has seen a record amount of traditional advertising including an average of over 45 commercials and promos each hour. This may sound like the advertising fraternity is minting money except that it also implies that the clutter in traditional advertising space has increased too.

Tackling the clutter

However, the study also notes that in three hours of prime time television, the four major networks in the US aired an average of six promotions for a total of 31 seconds during programming rather than in breaks. Clearly, there is a marked shift towards in-program placement.

"For the first time since our initial study in 1991, we are seeing ads and promos during actual programming," says PhaseOne Communications director of analysis Terry Villines.

Each network had its own version of in-program advertising. NBC used an average of nine on-screen 'pop-ups' to promote other NBC programs. Although CBS did not use any on-screen promos, it used a program's host to verbally promote other CBS shows an average of three times during prime time.

Fearing viewers' tendency to tune out during commercial breaks, especially when facilitated with digital video recorders such as TiVo, it appears that marketers are now exploring new ways to reach their intended audience.

According to the study, each of the networks used at least one method of promotion during prime time programming, including on-screen text (pop-up) promos, program hosts or actors promoting an advertiser and the presence of sponsors' corporate logos on-screen or within the show.

Ticking off the viewer?

While these new devices do not account for much time when compared to traditional advertising, they are noted for their encroachment on programming.

"Viewers have come to expect a certain amount of advertising during commercial breaks. However, we would caution the use of promotion during programming for fear of irritating and ultimately alienating viewers," says Villines.

Indian television too is trying to jump out of the well - there are instances to support that - but is it showing? If yes, where? If not, why? For a lowdown on the Indian scene regarding in-program brand placement, click on the link below:

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