It’s not surprising that Advertisers want changes. Well it’s all coming to a head as we lead into Upfronts this coming week. You see over the past five years network TV ratings have steadily declined. Ratings that are currently considered good would have been laughable five years ago. They would be down right abysmal. However the way we watch TV has changed so drastically. The need to watch network TV has diminished greatly. One can still watch the shows and not watch it live feeding the ratings beast. Heck, watching TV in other ways allows people to do the number one thing people are looking to do, watch the show they are interested in an cut out the ads keeping us from it.
It’s come to the point where advertisers know that they are no longer reaching the same audience as they previously were and want changes. If they are going to be paying to help fund these networks and as a result shows, that means they want it to be worth their while. With DVRs and alternative ways of watching shows the advertising needs to be particularly targeted. It is so easy to watch a different way than the traditional way of watching TV. Advertisers want their dollars to count. They need to have their dollars count.
One of the major reasons that traditional TV as is still functions is because of advertisers. If they decided to bail and go all digital, it wouldn’t be long before the networks followed suit to chase the money or would fall away entirely. Networks are heavily reliant on their advertisers. Much of their budgets and day to day functions a funded in part by the revenue they received from advertisers. Without those advertisers many of these networks would crumble unable to support the weight of the endeavors they are trying to achieve. At the end of the day, the networks are not out to make the best show, they are out to make the show that will have the most viewers and as a result the highest priced advertising slots. There are times when those great shows over lap with being the most watched shows. Many times they do not. Your favorite networks don’t care.
One of the ways networks are attempting to appeal for this call to change from advertisers is delivering them what they want: more targeted advertising. Honestly, if done right and subtly this method of advertising might actually be one or more effective and subconscious way of doing it. I’m talking about in show promotion. By this point in time, we’ve all seen it happen. You’re watching a show and one of your character whips out a device, blatantly showing it to the screen as they use it. They walk into a location with the badging is all over. Heck, Modern family recently did an entirely done on iDevices. Yes, it was an interesting story telling technique, but there’s no denying that it was a half hour ad, whether the creators intended it that way or not. It’s because the characters we love are suddenly endorsing a product or place.
This sort of advertising was often seen as a way to get funding to a dying show that needed support. Community and other shows have infamously done it. Though I have to admit Community’s use of it becoming a highlight of the show was particularly well done. Or company seeking to reach a target audience that they was worth shelling out money to have their product featured. Fringe is a show that repeatedly came to mind. The advertising seems to work, but it often requires more intervention than simply throwing in an ad during a commercial break.
The changes in the way we watch is what is spurring this change in advertisers. For them it is a question of how do they reach their target audience when the traditional way of commercials is fading away? How can they get their money’s worth when things aren’t quite so simple any more?