In yesterday's Wall Street Journal you commented on the short, animated clips that Fox is planning to run during commercial breaks in an attempt to retain viewers through those commercial breaks. As most know, Nielsen Media Research is soon scheduled to release a new measure of ad veiwership that will show a noticeable drop-off in audience levels during the commercial breaks.
While this has always been assumed to be the case, there has, until now, been little hard measurement data to prove it. And now that the blindfolds are being removed, so to speak, it's only understandable that the networks are becoming proactive.
But what struck me as most interesting, Jon, were your comments. In regards to the animated clips that Fox will be introducing, you said, "It's something that pops up that is unexpected and the viewer says, 'What the hell is that?' It may keep them (the viewer) around for a while longer."
Pardon me, Jon, but isn't that pretty much the definition of a well-crafted, entertaining commercial?
You then added, "Fox wants to discover what we can do to make commercial breaks a more interesting experience for our viewers? What can we do to get them to hang around through the commercial breaks?"
A noble goal, certainly. But before attempting to solve a problem, it helps to understand what the problem actually is. And the problem with commercial breaks isn't that people dislike advertising. What people dislike is interruptions in their programs.
It is the intrusive nature of advertising that is the problem. Not the advertising itself.
Which means by adding your proposed 16 seconds of animated fare to the already 3-minute commercial pod, you're only going to exacerbate the problem.
The preferable solution would be to deliver commercial messages in a way that isn't intrusive to the program. And while that is possible in the nonlinear, digital world, I understand that it is less doable in your linear, broadcast platform.
Interestingly, on the same page as your article was the Google story about getting into TV. Google, it seems, will delve much deeper than Nielsen by offering second-by-second viewer measurement data.
In other words, Google will let advertisers know whether most viewers watched only 10% of their spot, or 90%. And once advertisers know, for example, that viewers watched, say, only 10%, don't you think they will be hard-pressed to pay their agency full fare for the other 90%?
And therein lies your answer, Jon. It's not less accurate measurement data that you need, it's more accurate measurement data. It's second-by-second measurement data that broadcasters should be demanding. Because once advertisers know how little their commercials are actually watched by the viewers, they will be able to hold their agencies accountable.
And, pay them accordingly.
Commercials that actually involve viewers will be worth more to the advertiser, and hence, worth more to the agency that created them.
This will lead to agencies creating better, more entertaining and, one can only hope, more engaging commercials. In other words, Jon, they'll be creating what you want to create. Something "that pops up that is unexpected and the viewers says 'What the hell is that?'"
Which, of course, good agencies have been doing all along.
All the best, Jon.
All the best.