Is television advertising under threat in Australia?
Earlier this week Robert Morgan, executive chairman of the Clemenger advertising group, wrote an excellent piece for The Australian. He argued that TV in Australia is suffering due to advertising clutter.
Morgan observed that in the early days of TV advertising
Each show had three breaks of one minute each plus an opening and closing billboard, and between programs there would be one 20-second commercial and one 10-second — roughly half of the bombardment we get today. The thought of a competitor being within half an hour of your commercial was absolutely out of the question.”
Today its much, much worse. TV is extremely cluttered and its competing with a plethora of entertainment options.
Whilst television was once the centre of most family household entertainment, we now see the family migrating to different parts of the house for multiple reasons.
For example, walk into a teenager’s bedroom: they aren’t viewers any more. They aren’t even listeners or readers; they are browsers, grazers and meshers. They multi-task. If you want to compete for their attention you’d better be to the point and compelling, which today’s TV is not. And, they’ll be in the key TV audience age group of 25-54 in less than 10 years.
Meanwhile advertising clutter is worsening the viewing experience for those who do tune in. This includes the abundance of station promos which usually appear first in break, detracting from paying advertisers chances of grabbing viewer attention.
There are meant to be, on average, no more than 13 minutes of commercial content per hour. Now, on almost every top rating show there are more like 14-15 minutes of promotional and advertising content plus those awful promotional pull-throughs that drive viewers mad.
Morgan points out that with digital viewing controls such as Tivo and Foxtel IQ viewers are now able to skip through ads. This in turn is beginning to threaten the viability of television advertising, and inevitably television itself.
There is no doubt clutter contributes to lower effectiveness of advertisements by reducing brand recall and persuasion.
A global report by Omnicom Media puts the loss of effectiveness as high as 40-50 per cent. These results are even worse when clutter is competitive. Try having a conversation with four people at once!
The same research also proves that consumers are far more likely to recall an ad in a shorter break than a longer one. Also, the longer the break the greater the propensity for zapping.
Moran acknowledges that the Ten Network has responded positively with its Seriously Short Ad Breaks package that delivers only two spots per break with a 50 per cent loading. This is resulting in an 80 per cent increase in ad recall in these breaks versus normal breaks. In radio, Nova pioneered a similar strategy.
Television is still the most powerful media for brands, but it may end up contributing to its own demise unless a better approach is taken to improve viewing experiences and provide advertisers with a chance to cut through.
Increasingly, our own agency is being asked by clients what other options they have as they become increasingly disillusioned with traditional media clutter. It has resulted in us seriously exploring alternatives that will deliver our customers with more quantifiable results.
Hopefully the television industry will react before its too late. They already face declining numbers to a significant generation shift, so they don’t need to contribute to the problem themselves.