There was a time when we accepted a certain amount of advertising on television as we understood that it was paying for the programming that we were watching. But today, it has gone from being reasonable to absurd. The percentage of an hour of broadcast made up of advertisements has grown from about nine minutes in the 1950’s to about 20 minutes in 2012. If there is one thing that I find annoying in today’s world, it is the constant unrelenting advertising.
A typical example is the Super Bowl. Super Bowl 2012 ad spots have sold out at record prices. Advertisers have paid an average of $3,500,000 each for the 30 second spots according to NBC sports – that is about $116,000 dollars a second. Now in addition to the cost, the network has sold 70 – 30 second spots for the Super Bowl football game. Yep folks, try $245,000,000 dollars in revenue. And yes, now that the network has sold all this advertising, it has to get it in during the broadcast. Nothing is more frustrating than to leave a game for an advertisement when the down marker is 1st and 10 yards only to return when the down marker reads 2nd and 3 yards – that’s right, you just missed an entire play. This is not unusual at all in a big game. Now I think the record is 7 ads in a row during a game. If a player has been injured or we are waiting for an official review of a play, this is an excellent time for the producer to break for multiple ads.
How about TV movies that are “edited” to fit within the allotted time frame? Whole scenes are removed from the movie to allow for advertising time. With some movies, it works well, with others not so well. Or how about showing the same ad during a television program 5 and 10 times over and over again? It is sort of like raising the volume of the advertisement so that you can even hear it in the kitchen while you grab a snack or two. Television programs use varying levels of volume to create a dramatic effect. Commercials, on the other hand, have no need for dramatic effect. Commercials just want to grab your attention. The average commercial volume is much higher than the normal programming volume. In February of 2009, a bill was sponsored in the U. S. House of Representatives that would mandate the FCC to regulate television commercial volume. It was called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. To the best of my knowledge, the act was passed by the House of Representatives in December of 2009 but has yet to be passed by the Senate – little wonder with the power of the advertising lobbyists.
Internet advertising is slowly overtaking television. TV, the once preferred medium of advertising, is taking hits in its advertising budget. We now have Internet pop-ups, floating animated advertisements that move across your screen as well as the new trick, darkening your page while flashing on an advertisement that forces you to click to remove the ad and return to your selection. Pop-ups are linked to certain web sites so you will see the Netflix advertisement when you finish reading your article regardless of what you do. Aggravating, you better believe it. If you would prefer to watch a news video on the Internet, you must first suffer through the required advertisement that can run from 15 to 30 seconds.
The major reason for growing popularity of online advertising is the “too cluttered scenario” of traditional media like television advertising, radio advertising, outdoor advertising, and press advertising. Advertising is the traditional media has created a saturated market. When there is a commercial break on television, people change the television channel immediately. Half of the advertising texts are unread. Being cluttered and saturated, the traditional media is failing to penetrate though to its target audience. For the very reasons that I write this article, advertising is moving to the Internet. Before long the Internet will become a saturated market.
Radio advertising can also become a source of aggravation. The ads are obviously sold to pay for the cost of the programming and the same scenario occurs here as on television. I noted one morning that it took almost 20 minutes before the radio personality played a song. This station thus averaged 3 songs per hour and countless commercials. I think what is hurting radio advertising is the growth of iPods and other hand held devices with thousands of down loaded songs, DVD’s and technological instruments as well as commercial-less radio stations.
The local pastor of my parish is concerned that the amount of advertisements has declined in the parish newspaper due to the current recession. The ads pay for the paper but this is the same pastor that installed a flat screen TV in the entrance area of the gathering space. He has surely bought into the new world of advertising.
I do see a shift in the way advertising is moving. I received a copy of the local Time Magazine in the mail the other day and it almost slipped out of my hand it was so small. The paper media is suffering as we move to the Internet. I guess my answer is to watch less television and listen to less radio and read more good books. It is estimated that 147,000,000 people will watch the Super Bowl this year. As a result, I expect little change in TV advertising even though it is causing its own problems by overwhelming its audience. Last February, I wrote an article called “Privacy is gone forever” and I guess I should have labeled it “Sanity is gone forever.”