Look, A Commercial Is Coming! Being Upfront With Viewers About TV Business


 From Fox's "Glee" to USA Network's "White Collar," every program this year seems to be doing those unusually long-ish, content-commercial vignettes where a sponsored bit of content interrupts the usual series of 30-second commercials.

Understandably, these activities are for the 40% of us who have time-shifting devices and use the machines to fast-forward through commercials.

The intention is obvious, Cruising (fast-forwarding) through a normal two- to three-minute commercial pod, you notice some familiar-looking content, say the cast of "Glee" doing something you can't make sense of. So you stop and hit "play." Then you realized you've been watching one of a series of sponsored vignettes that have a cute little story with American Express mention at the end.

Other examples abound: During one recent episode of USA Network's "White Collar," a cast member gave viewers a tour of some New York City exterior locations via some transportation -- a new Ford Fusion car.



There's worst stuff: Some networks link a story at the end of particular TV segment to a commercial that follows -- so you really can't tell when the content ends and the commerce begins.

Does this help? Does this hurt? I'm guessing all this gets maybe half of those fast-forwarders to stop and look, grabbing the market some brand awareness it wouldn't normally get.

For some hard-core DVR users, who believe fast-forwarding is their god-given right, I'm guessing there is strong negative reaction. But for marketers, what's the alternative? With this tactic, tcompanies get 50% of those DVR fast-forwarders in the right frame of mind, being left with a positive or shrug-of-shoulders reaction. That's not bad.

Future branded-entertainment, pod-busting stuff needs to be even better. Take out the harder-looking product-placement stuff and just be upfront about it. Put up a billboard or logo of the company, at the beginning or the end of these little "infotainment" efforts, like the "Glee"-Amex vignettes.

To be fair, the "Glee" segments are a social action campaign to inspire viewers to make a difference in their communities. Still, that kind of messaging doesn't confuse viewers.

Viewers understand business needs to be done to financially support TV shows. In turn, TV networks and producers just need to be increasingly straightforward about what is content and what is commerce in order to get viewer support.

2 comments about "Look, A Commercial Is Coming! Being Upfront With Viewers About TV Business ".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Stephanie Piche from Mingle Media TV, October 12, 2010 at 8:24 p.m.

    Nothing is free - so if we can produce online original content that has brand-sponsored entertainment mixed in, everyone wins. We get more creators being creative and getting paid as well as the audience engaged... which is the trick right? Keeping them engaged. I think it's brilliant!!

  2. John Mucha from Maximum Marketing, October 13, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.

    There are some of us old enough to remember when live TV incorporated commericals, live reads by the on-air talent.
    Also, if anyone out there listens to radio (and the numbers say you do) it's part of the program. Listen to the sports jocks on WFAN in the morning and hear them segue from Yankee chatter to an ad for a laxative...almost seamlessly.
    Happens all the time.

Next story loading loading..