Commentary

That's Why They Call It Creative

Did you see what Forrester recommended to advertises who are about to get smacked as personal video recorder penetration nears two million households? PVRs, as you undoubtedly know, can skip over or eliminate ads.

In “Will Ad-Skipping Kill Television?” compiled in conjunction with the Association of National Advertisers, Forrester says that advertisers claim they will cut TV spending across the board, on national, local, and cable advertising, in the next five years as PVRs reach 30 million households. This will cost the networks about $7 billion.

The report, which polled 112 senior marketers (mostly directors and vps of advertising) in over a dozen different vertical industries, says that the networks can make up the revenue with new ad dollars for commercials in video on-demand and new services like subscription video on-demand. The networks can also fight back, says the report’s principal architect Joshua Bernoff, by linking ads more closely to programs. In other words, disguising ads as programming content.

Mr. Bernoff also advises advertisers to consolidate their ad buys with fewer networks to improve their chances of getting first shot at product placement and sponsorship opportunities. The researcher also suggests advertisers reserve 5% of their media budget for non-standard formats such as interactive program-guide panels, interactive commercials, and ads on PVR menus. All of which, Forrester and the ANA believe, are impervious to ad-skipping.

Nothing in there about making TV commercials more interesting or compelling to viewers or transforming those one-way communiqués into transactional, two-way spots by running them on the Internet.

Also didn’t see anything about erosion of network audiences at the same time Internet audiences are growing like crazy.

You would think that Forrester, which keeps a very close eye on the Internet, would not fall into the same trap as many agencies of trying to figure out how to “solve” network TV rather than finding better alternatives. At least the agencies have the tired excuses of network TV being where they get the lion’s share of their revenue and that all the creative types want to go on commercial shoots in Acapulco rather than figure out how to tinker with new media copy and creative units.

Guys, the idea is not how to trick audiences into seeing your messages by burying them in programming or attaching them to something that can’t be erased (like a PPV movie). The idea is to find ways to engage audiences no matter what the medium.

That’s why they call it “creative."

John Durham is COO of Interep Interactive. He may be reached at jdurham@wims.com

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