Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Engagment or Entrapment: Do Networks Know There's A Difference?

Recently, ABC-Disney announced that they would put some of their best programming - "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost" and "Ugly Betty," on the Cox VOD system one day after it initially airs on broadcast.

If the announcement would have stopped there, it would have been great news. What VOD platforms are lacking is programming worth watching. And these programs would certainly go a long way to helping that.

But in what seems to be a network's indubitable way of doing things, they then succeeded in screwing the pooch.

You see, the one caveat is that Cox will disable the fast-forward capability so that viewers will be forced to watch the commercials.

Do not be surprised to see ABC start selling this platform as offering 100% engagement. It is definitely 100% something. But, it is certainly not engagement.

Along these same lines, last week at the upfront, the CW network unveiled how they were now selling five-second ads. The biggest selling feature of five-second ads? Too fast to fast-forward through.

In other words, another way to guarantee 100% engagement.

When did the definition of engagement become the same as the definition of entrapment?

Entrapment is holding someone against their will. Being held against one's will, usually does not put one in a good frame of mind. Which is, as an advertiser, the mindset I would want viewers to be in when my ad runs in front of them.

Instead of attending to how best to escape, I would prefer viewers to be attentive to what I have to say.

Creating shorter ads or disabling fast-forward functionality only helps to disable the industry's progress in finding out how to make the digital future work.

It's a future where viewers are in control. We need to accept and learn how to work with that. It's what we hear from every cable operator. Every network.

You think for a short, brief moment, that they get it.

And then, this.

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