One of the advantages of having DVR functionality and being a fan of the syndicated prime access program “Jeopardy” is the gift of time my cable company gives me. With DVR in hand, I can watch a half-hour episode of “Jeopardy” in about 18 minutes. As a near-daily viewer, this saves me about four hours a month, or 48 hours (two full days) a year.
Time is precious to me, so I’m grateful for this technology that allows me to recapture time and spend it doing things I really want to, rather than having to watch or otherwise avoid commercials. And I don’t begrudge Bayer Consumer Care’s over-the-counter pain relief medication Aleve for coming up with a clever way to make sure its message is the only one of the many on “Jeopardy” that actually gets through to me. After all, ads help keep my cost of content down – right?
Media sales folk and marketers want ads that will “stick” with consumers. The overscheduling on ad-supported linear television seems to be driven by the old approach “let’s throw it all up against the wall and see what sticks.” (Overscheduling also increases revenues for media vendors, but that’s another article). This leaves us with a multibillion-dollar dilemma: excessive ad-loads, believed to increase the odds of ads being seen, actually drive viewers to avoid advertising.
So kudos to Aleve for finding a short-term solution and putting significant money behind a strategy that really does create stickiness. Here’s how it works:
1. Aleve purchases a sponsorship position, buying units in every program, five days a week.
2. Aleve provides the $3,000 combined daily prize money for second and third place.
3. Focusing on the commercial pod just prior to the climactic “Final Jeopardy” question, which determines the winner and losers of the day, Aleve secures the final :10 pod position.
4. Instead of running a traditional commercial in that :10 final pod position, it runs a video billboard, recorded on the same set we will see for “Final Jeopardy,” showing the in-program video screen that will convey the final Jeopardy question, with the “Jeopardy” announcer’s voice reading the screen traditional answer/question format. But instead of a Jeopardy answer/question, an Aleve answer/question is revealed.
- A recent example of the Aleve answer/question is “This product can provide all day pain relief with just two pills.” Of course, the correct response is: “What Is Aleve? Two pills all day strong, all day long.”
5. After this “faux” question for Aleve runs, the program seamlessly and immediately flows into Alex Trebek asking the final “Jeopardy” question, with the classic Jeopardy music tick-tock theme as contestants write down their responses.
For DVR fast-forwarders, this creates the illusion that the program itself has returned, and when they stop and return to regular speed, the standard “jump back” of about 10 seconds puts the viewer right at the beginning of the Aleve message. With DVR penetration now approaching 50%, regular “Jeopardy” advertisers can easily get lost in the clutter and ad avoidance. But not Aleve!
It’s pretty foolproof, since full ad avoidance of this particular unit is difficult. The viewer could fast-forward again, but that would take more time than waiting ten seconds for the final 'Jeopardy” segment to start. And if you fast-forward too far into real final “Jeopardy,” you’ll unwittingly see the outcome before you want to.
Aleve has figured out a way to actually get its message seen on linear television – but this is a stopgap measure. David Poltrack of CBS has stated that DVR is a transitional technology. The longer-term benefit (and I’m assuming that Aleve pays a hefty premium to partner with the producers of Jeopardy in this way), is in seeing an advertiser recognize that it is better to pay more for an ad that’s actually seen. On-demand is the way T/V (television/video) will be consumed in greater and greater degree across many new and different platforms, as the linear advertising model with overloaded ad scheduling fades as an option for advertisers.
We are already seeing that media providers are exploring the use of fewer ads in their video-on-demand offerings. With fewer ads, advertisers will need to pay more, as Aleve has in this instance. But that makes sense given that they will no longer be paying for ads that are not seen. Fewer ads for viewers and guaranteed exposure for advertisers will increase the value of the entire multiplatform, interactive, ad-supported T/V proposition. And the sooner program producers and distributors understand this, the sooner we will arrive at a new and better model where fewer ads and higher advertiser costs will sustain or even increase revenues for them.
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