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TV Commercials 2.0 – revisited

May 29, 2009

This post was first published on the Canadian Marketing Association blog on January 29,2009 and recently revisited (Let’s Vote) by Hollie Shaw at the National Post.

In between there have been several venerable print/newspaper properties succumb to declining ad revenues as business models adjust themselves to changing competitive and economic conditions.

Over at Millward Brown – Nigel Hollis has also been asking questions (see here, here and here) regarding TV commercials making the point that despite media fragmentation it remains a leading, powerful and current weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.

But I ask that as you read through the rest, to wonder aloud…. if advertisers had to compete for audiences (and not simply buy access to them), whether the competition wouldn’t  unshackle the advertiser’s craftsmanship – to make one stop and engage with the communication instead of reaching for the fast forward button.

One might argue marketers best interest is to create sales generating ads from the outset…perhaps … but that doesn’t explain why so many commercials are being zapped. The only answer is to have marketers, advertisers, broadcasters and consumers working together  learning  how to create better value for each other. No doubt these ideas need further refinement – but the point remains the status quo is quickly becoming an ineffective option.

Here’s the original post:


For some time now parts of the marketing world have been wondering if the growing problem advertisers are having getting their commercials seen by their intended targets is not a problem of their own making.

One only needs to look at the Clio awards to see some great commercials being produced that stop traffic (and drive sales?), but these are the showcase creative executions that do not reflect the main stream advertising that is broadcast day in and day out. And that’s part of the problem, its push based advertising and some of it is not as good as it could/should be. This started me to wonder if we might see greater success (on many levels) if we adopted a google customer voting approach to TV commercials.

So here’s the idea:
What if we allowed consumers to come to the program/station website to preview and select which commercials they would like to see? They’ld have an opportunity to pick from a pool of let’s say 10 commercials from which they select their final 5. The “Top 5” commercials with the most votes get aired, the rest…

Now the financial model for the networks would be based on 3 streams.
1. A fee from advertisers who wish to be submitted into the pool, plus a second fee for each commercial viewed and voted on.
2. A subsequent fee for the airing of the winning commercials.
3. Free analytics for the winners while losers would have to pay.

The station/program have an opportunity to wrap a contest around the voting event, spike program interest with teasers and get important viewer data in advance of the airing. Those ads that don’t make the cut, can try again – but if it fails to solicit a customer following then the advertiser has learned something about their commercial execution. Consumers could be encouraged to watch the aired commercials by participating in some on-screen promo/QR code event.

If you think this is a little far fetched – have a read of a similar approach being taken by Pepsi for the Super Bowl as they seek to get consumer input on which spots consumers will get to see. Pepsi Tries Super Bowl Spot Selection 2.0

So what do you think?
If consumers could pick which commercial they would see, would that:
1) Raise the level of commercial entertainment/communication value of the ads
2) Provide additional value to advertisers and revenue for broadcasters
3) Increase the % of viewers that watch and retain the messages being broadcast to them
4) Give consumers a sense of ‘programming control’ that would help broadcasters ‘engage’ their audience

Or do you feel it’s too little, too late.

In case you haven’t had your fill of TV commercial, this links to my collection of favorite commercials like Apple 1984 and others…

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