Commercials have traditionally been as much a part of television as the TV shows themselves. Dating back to the very early days of the medium, advertisers have used it as a platform to push their products, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into expansive campaigns targeted at specific audiences. But during that time, they’ve come up against opposition from the same people they’re trying to sell to. This in turn has led to sentiments that commercials should be eliminated entirely, and we have a hard time disagreeing. But why, you ask, should big-name companies abandon television entirely?
1. People straight up don’t like being sold to
The foremost reason for abolishing commercials is a simple one: Customers resent the hard sell. It’s why advertisers have spent years trying to make their sales pitches look like anything but ads. Things like native advertising and viral marketing have taken hold in recent years, all in a concerted effort to make people feel like they’re not being sold to.
Whether it’s on billboards, in internet pop-ups, or on TV, we as customers expend massive amounts of effort to avoid commercials, while advertisers continue to plow forward anyway. The numbers back this up too, with one study from Arris showing that 84% of people polled admitted that they prefer to fast-forward through commercials, while 60% claim they download or record TV specifically to avoid ads altogether.
2. TV advertising is horribly outdated
Back in the early days of television, commercials made sense from a strategic standpoint. They were an integral part of the TV-viewing experience, and with few other available mediums available for advertising, it was the flagship strategy for many companies. Modern technology though has made TV advertising irrelevant. According to The Guardian, “the increased use of smartphones and tablets detracts from TV commercials’ relevance. Last month, researchers found that viewers who focused just on the TV screen were able to recall 2.43 out of every three brands mentioned, while smartphone and tablet users only managed to recall 1.62 on average.” Basically, companies are pouring resources into an advertising medium that’s quickly getting overshadowed by new media.
3. There are other ways of reaching your customers
The fact that new media is distracting people during commercial breaks isn’t all bad for advertisers. What it does is give them entirely different ways to reach their customers. Native advertising, sponsored content, and viral marketing are all alternatives that blur the line between entertainment and advertising, creating a seamless, unobtrusive alternative. If your problem is that people don’t like feeling as though they’re being sold to, then sidestep that issue entirely and stop overtly screaming, “HEY THIS IS A COMMERCIAL AND YOU SHOULD WATCH.” Of course you’d come up against the issue of whether it’s morally copacetic to essentially trick your customer-base, but that’s another discussion entirely.
4. People are already finding workarounds
Even while many companies are relentlessly trying to push their ads on customers, people are finding a host of workarounds, both legal and illegal. Streaming options like HBO GO, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon have given audiences a taste of that sweet, commercial-free nectar. Meanwhile, the rise of DVR has enabled people to fast-forward straight through breaks in the action. All that’s without even diving into alternatives like Popcorn Time and The Pirate Bay, which allow users to illegally download and stream virtually any TV show and movie sans advertisements. You can either try and battle the rising tide, or learn to swim in it, and it would serve advertisers well to do the latter.
5. Advertisers can evolve with the times or fail accordingly
All this leaves advertisers with one option: adapt or die. Customers are rapidly unplugging from the tried and true cable package, opting for any number of commercial-free options, from PlayStation VUE to Netflix. There’s a wealth of choices for anyone looking to avoid commercials, and if advertisers don’t figure out a way to exist in the world as it is, they’ll doom themselves to irrelevance. Basing your model off of what worked in the 1950s and ’60s isn’t exactly business-smart. The sooner companies learn this, the sooner they can figure out a way to exist in our brand new commercial-less world.
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