There I was driving my car when panic hit. I realized my ipod was at home. Of course, I have long since sold all of my cd’s (holdover from a prior non-digital age). So, I was left with either silence or the radio.
My brain was not ready for silence and so I braved the radio. What was I hit with? Commercials, lots of them, on every single station. Aggh!
Even worse, these were not the commercials that I am now used to. They were the type that do not relate at all to me, increase their volume, and involve stupid slogans/hijinks. These are the commercials from my prior Web 1.0 years. Right then and their it struck me!
Commercials are changing. We as consumers are finding more and more ways to avoid them. Some of us can avoid them entirely. They used to be unavoidable, but now we get content from the internet via streaming tv, music on an ipod, and news from podcasts. These platforms still have commercials but they are nothing like the ones on my radio, those had the strong odor of scat. So, rather than listen I just went with silence and millions of folks making the same choice.
With all of this going on one could say that commercials are dead, but a more accurate statement is that they are morphing into something new. They are changing into useful and interesting creatures. Each one that I hear on these new platforms is interesting, relevant, and high quality. How did this happen, why are commercials interesting now?
That’s simple. The industry is changing in some very important ways. First is the technology. Ipods, Tivo’s, slingoboxes, apple tv’s, and others are allowing consumers to skip the commercials. If the commercials get in the way of the content we will skip them. Advertisers better start making them fun and interesting otherwise we will fast forward ya. This is starting to happen, ever wonder how many hits the “apple vs pc” commercials get?
Next, users choose what they want to watch. We are getting away from the “check your local listings” or you have to watch it on Tuesday night at 9pm to see it. Now, we can just go online and watch it, anytime. This means that I must be really interested in the show if I am streaming it on the internet. Advertisers are realizing this and attaching more relevant commercials to the show. Watching a show about cooking, ok here are some cooking deals. Listening to a podcast about the stock markets, here is a deal on the wall street journal. This is the holy grail of advertising: knowing exactly what people are interested in and providing them with interesting products.
Another change is the effectiveness in delivering content. Distribute everything across the internet. No need for local affiliates and their crappy commercials. No need for shipping, delivering, or any other costs to get the content to you. Lower costs means less need for commercials to turn a profit.
The final change is that big budget productions are now competing with user generated content. If my local podcast can get me my news, why would I go for the studio produced multi-million dollar reporter shows? If some guy can create a funny 10 minute video, why would I want to go for the TV episode with 30 commercials on it?
The result is a new breed of commercial. One that is highly targeted for me and very high quality. I am not spammed with commercials instead shown a few good ones. Most of shows in this new format give you 2-5 commercials per half hour (compared to 15-30 per half hour before).
And, for the user we can start to like commercials again. I know I do. In fact, to me they are not even “commercials” anymore. They are supplemental content. They add value to my experience rather than annoy me.
Hopefully, this all made sense.
So, I hope you are enjoying the same freedom that I am. Or, are you still watching “Crazy Eddie” and his crazy deals?