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TV Advertising and Consumer Choice
TV advertising is one of the most effective (and expensive) forms of advertising to purchase. Advertising slots, based on time increments of up to a minute and a half can be purchased from a network or television station to run during certain television programs or to run a specified number of times throughout a particular block of time. The most expensive regular programming is in the evening during “prime time” hours, which are 6pm-10pm. The least expensive programming is after midnight and until 5am.
There are special occasions when TV advertising is especially high due to the high number of viewers for a particular program. As such, it is important to note that TV advertising is very flexible and dependent on programming schedules. For example, during the Superbowl, TV advertising slots run for millions of dollars. The main purchasers of these times are beer and truck companies because men are the primary watchers of football and advertisers want to reach them with their products in the most effective way.
The Remote Control: A TV Advertising Challenge
The invention of the remote control put a great deal of pressure on advertisers who became subject to the whims of boredom, hunger or fatigue. Rather than sitting through a commercial because they didn’t want to get up and change the channel, the remote control now allows viewers to change channels and skip the TV advertising that was directed specifically towards them during the program they watch.
As such, advertisers had to work much harder to keep the attention of the viewers by making their TV advertisements shorter and more exciting. For awhile, this change drove down the cost of advertising as slots became open and more available to other advertising companies, but soon the competition was back up along with slot prices as more and more people tuned into their favorite shows.
TiVo and DVR (digital video recorders) created another set of issues for TV advertising. With the ability to skip commercials altogether by editing them out with programs such as TiVo and DVR, potential consumers opt out of learning about a new product or service. This option has cost TV advertisers millions of dollars in lost revenue and potential new consumers. In fact, advertising companies are currently in court over the loss of business, claiming that putting the choice of advertisement viewing in the hands of the consumer was harmful to the industry; however, their battle has been an uphill one.
What will TV advertising look like in the future? Will there be TV advertisements placed directly within television programs, as some media specialists predict? Product placement has long been a way for advertisers to put their product in the hands of the consumers before they purchase it, by allowing them to see it used in movies and in television. Advertising companies pay money to the television and movie producers to have their product used during the program – a sip of Coke, a smoke of a Camel cigarette, etc. With the TV advertisements being controlled by consumers, it may be that one day TV advertisers are strategically regaining control of the TV market by investing in product placements rather than traditional TV advertising.