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TV gelatinizes brain

February 23, 2009

The weekend passed in a blur.  Aside from painting another section of railing and doing some household shopping, I can’t recall much more than retreating to the couch on Sunday and watching an entire season of “Last comic standing” on the DVR as some kind of rare viewing binge – an escape from the world.   Ordinarily, I wasn’t that into the show.  But there it was, an entire season, back to back, all day long…

I made frequent use of the fast forward to speed through commercials to extract the programming pulp from the bloated hour long episodes.  It’s amazing to see that 1/3 of what we watch is advertising.  The entire season was re-broadcast back to back, and the sponsor list was fairly short so the same ads appeared repetitiously.  Ironically, one of the prolific advertisers was Hulu, with their over the top truth in advertising jab at our viewing habits.

…and clever follow up that takes the cross branding a bit further, by promoting a new series at the same time as the new service.

 I wonder if the long term effect of DVR’s on commercial advertising might drive a change in ad format?  In the past, ads only had to be so good because we generally suffered through them.  Sure, we flipped to another channel or left the room for a couple mins, but only part of the time.   Armed with DVR we may skip through them completely, reducing them to a barely discernable collage of images.    How to respond to this?    Two ideas come to my mind…

1) Develop a new commercial format  to present several key images to the audience based on a derivative of the fast forward frame rate.  Think about how the default frame of a youtube video is halfway through.  You want that frame to grab attention, so clever people plan something compelling halfway through.   Consider the default frame of the second video shown above.  

2) Adopt a commercial as a story in parts – maybe up to a dozen little installments.   Each installment would leave the audience wondering what happens next, or what happened before?  Might people  actually record and store the commercials, searching  for missing episodes like that elusive 50 state quarter needed to complete the collection?  Maybe air the episodes out of order with subsequent ones modifying what the audience is led to believe the ad is really about?  

Or maybe my brain is already mush…

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