Commentary

Study: More TV Advertising Can Mean More Dissatisfaction

Let’s face it -- your live TV life may be miserable. Why? Because you watch too much advertising.

The Centre for Economic Policy Research analyzed advertising spending in 27 European nations over the course of three decades to come to this conclusion. The study found when a nation's ad spending went up, life satisfaction in the country went down or increased less than what was expected.

(I should have figured as much. I always felt bad after binging on “Mad Men.”)

Yes, this is a European study. But here’s the U.S. silver cloud: Seems watching Super Bowl advertising isn’t that bad, according to the study. We can surmise this is because a lot of drunk viewers love to watch advertising featuring the mishaps of average people -- mostly male -- in many creative ways.

Perhaps the lure to buy more products pushed by TV messaging has collateral effects. TV offers us products that many cannot afford: luxury cars, big-time financial management firm services (which promise easy retirement and big stock market gains), or expensive jewelry.

Consumerism can yield euphoric sentiment among U.S. citizens. But advertising? That’s aspirational at best.

And then there is this.

The richer a country's society becomes, the more advertising its citizens will see, according to the study. As life satisfaction rose and fell in these countries, advertising costs reflected similar up-and-down trends "a small number of years later."

Well, in the U.S. -- and other countries -- we have time-shifting technologies to avoid advertising, especially as it attaches to premium video content on TV networks and new ad-supported digital platforms. But as we all know, there is still plenty of TV advertising that does get seen.

Maybe future addressable advertising will help. Right now it is somewhat depressing, for example, to see so many pharmaceutical ads pitched on live cable TV news network shows -- as if these ailments are on the way.

Yet, we keep watching.

Maybe I can find a Super Bowl ad to cheer me up, featuring people laughing while drinking a low-cost beer in a low-rent bar. How about a new, semi-violent, somewhat animated-looking video? Nope. All depressing.

Turn to daytime TV advertising? P&G is running an ad for Febreze and everything isn’t so miserable. The TV life smells good -- for the moment.

1 comment about "Study: More TV Advertising Can Mean More Dissatisfaction".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 25, 2019 at 3 p.m.

    Another interesting one, Wayne. We estimate the number of ads the average person is "exposed to" on an average day and, perhaps surprisingly, when you go back in time and track the findings it turns out that in 1945 an average adult was exposed to 340 ads per day and noted about 124 of them. Needless to say these were all print and/or radio ads. Our latest figure for 2018---- in our new report, "Cross-Platform Dimensions"--- is 381 ads exposed per day and 153 "noted"---mostly via TV and digital media. Not exactly a huge change in volume is it?

    My point being that the assumed deluge of ads we are "bombarded with" is largely a myth. Yes. there are many More ads out there but, thanks to media audience fragmentation, we come into contact with very few of them and we have many more "avoidance" mechanisms now than in the past. As for liking the ads, that's another matter. In ancient times there were very few complaints about radio and print ads as these came to us in smaller doses---like one commercial for the sponsor of the radio show every 8-10 minutes. Now we get our TV fix with 6-10 commercials per break and the Internet hits us more or less randomly with ads, often in a most disruptive and annoying manner. So it may be true that ads placed in the current  "audience unfriendly" manner contribute to our feelings of general stress and frustration---but it's not because there are too many of them, it's how they are presented. Just my humble opinion.

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