More Than Half Viewing Time Devoted To Ad Messages In Reality Shows

Wonder why reality shows are still a favorite among TV marketers -- even with many at mediocre ratings? Just look at the total advertising/messaging time of those programs.

In a recent wide-ranging report, Kantar Media said a whopping 31-and-a-half minutes in a given hour of a typical TV reality show feature some kind of advertising/marketing message. This includes standard national 30-second inventory, TV promos, in-show product placement and other branded entertainment messages.

That means less than half of the viewing time of the average TV reality show is devoted to actual content rather than some form of TV advertising. If that's not enough, Kantar says this survey doesn't even include local TV ad messages that are seen. An outstanding statistic, overall.

When including scripted TV shows, Kantar says total average network TV marketing/advertising time comes to almost 24 minutes/hour, about 40% of a typical prime-time hour.



Late-night network talk shows were almost as bad as network reality shows: 29-and-a-half minutes of brand appearances and advertising messaging. (No doubt, much of this includes movie trailers that are presented by actors-guests of a show.)

Perhaps the biggest news is that nine-and-a-half minutes of the average network programming show has "in-show" branded stuff attached. In reality shows, we know all about the messaging for 24 Hour Fitness in "The Biggest Loser," Coca-Cola in "American Idol," or various cookware manufacturers in "Hell's Kitchen" or "MasterChef."

Some would suggest that branded in-show advertising messaging doesn't really dominate content, but is rather just part of it. If some character on "Modern Family" gets a bowl of Cheerios this season during a funny, off-kilter, or embarrassing morning kitchen scene, that TV producer might say the effort is worth it because it includes a "real" product, making it more authentic.

That's the real bottom line for viewers: Does it add entertainment value?

We don't know, really. One thing for sure: It virtually never hurts. Even bad product placement/branded entertainment doesn't turn off viewers, according to research. Not one product placement/branded entertainment deal has ever single-handedly killed a TV show because viewers were turned off.

That's great news. There is little downside for a TV marketer to participate -- and perhaps a greater chance of getting buzz. No wonder all this activity keeps growing.

The only question: What happens when this activity grows to 60% or 70% of an hour's worth of TV time? Will viewers finally speak up then? Or maybe it won't matter after all?

4 comments about "More Than Half Viewing Time Devoted To Ad Messages In Reality Shows".
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  1. Robb Lewis from Visa, September 14, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.

    If the increase is authentic product placement then I believe most users accept that as part of the scene. I'm drawing a parallel to a survey I did a number of years ago when building our in-game ad product. It showed that most users felt games like madden or those that involve real world scenery like GTA were actually enhanced when real brands were used over the generic fake brands that were typically the case.

    That doesn't mean that brands should dominate the show and force stories that don't fit into the show. Authenticity was the most important factor from our survey respondents.

  2. Nicholas Theodore from Self-Employed, September 14, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.

    Once again, marketers will succeed in killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    More eyeballs equals more ads. More ads means even more ads. Then it all goes 'poof.' And a new concept will be hatched. And then it starts all over again.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 14, 2010 at 1:05 p.m.

    Will you buy more Cheerios since you saw people on the fictional Modern Family have it? Will ads infinitum sell more product? How's your stock doing?

  4. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, September 14, 2010 at 4:44 p.m.

    Don Draper poured himself a bowl of Cheerios in an episode of "Mad Men" a few weeks ago. The placement registered with me but I didn't buy a box. However, it reminded me to buy cereal the next time I visited the store. I bought a box of Rice Chex.

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