Media Buying and Inbound Marketing Blog

Are Networks Killing TV Advertising?

By Jane Peters on March 29, 2012 |

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media buyer OhioThe other night I was trying to watch a show on a commercials.  Normally, since I make a living buying those commercials for clients, I watch the commercials as avidly as the programs.  (Just so I know who is advertising and what competitors are doing.)

At one point in the program I counted 12 commercials in one break. This seems excessive to me and made we wonder, “At what point does clutter become annoying?”  I started leaving the room when they started returning later when the program had begun.

Part of the frustration over commercial interruptions also comes from seeing the same ads over and over again, many times within the same break.  Most of the spots were run by the same three or four companies.The monotony can be mind-numbing. 

While we all know that advertising works on frequency, I don't think it is a productive media strategy to reach your weekly frequency of 3 within a half hour.

The 2 hour premiere for the new season for Mad Men was met with outrage from many viewers that found the nearly 30 minutes of commercials extremely annoying. 

The American Association of Advertising Agencies has reported that ad clutter is on the rise, despite the weak ad economy.  TV advertising while still the leader for revenue for all media,  may see this change as frustration from media buyers over TV's ad clutter continues to climb along with the number of commercials per show.

Commercial breaks have increased steadily from the start in the 60’s.  A one hour 1960’s show rerun today requires the content to be edited by nine minutes to make room for the ads networks currently insert.

Today a typical 30-minute block of time on a network now includes 22 minutes of programming and eight minutes of advertisements - six minutes for national advertising and two minutes for local. Cable commercial breaks tend to be even longer.

It seems that networks think the answer to lower ad spending is to cram more spots into each break.  In effect they are killing TV advertising by lowering the effectiveness for those advertisers who are spending.

With diminishing results from TV advertising, media buyers will be looking for more effective ways to spend their client’s ad dollars and viewers will continue to be angered and frustrated by too many ads. 

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