Interruption Junction

As media buyers and sellers, don’t you get sick of it when the token “offline” guy in your office slams online media? You know the conversation. It’s usually in front of your boss or a client. He laughs derisively, dismissing online media as a bunch of pop-ups. “I hate when those things flash across my screen,” he scoffs.

Why insult the underdogs? Aren’t we the folks who get pulled into last-minute pitches? Don’t we tend to be the glue in the agency relationship? We are liaisons to offline media, creative, production, tech teams, the account group, and, often, the client.

Because we wear so many hats, everything we do seems to comprise educating or translating for others. Well, it’s time to pull out all the stops. Remember the good ol’ Internet adoption-curve slide? It tracks growth to a reach of 50 million users, medium by medium. It’s still the best; use it.

Years to Reach 50 Million Users

Medium Years
Radio 38
TV 13
Cable 10
Internet 5

We know there’s an overabundance of advertising opportunities, online and on wireless applications. We can capitalize on the fact that a pair of eyeballs is inches away from our creative/messaging. As planners and buyers, we don’t deny that the Web has its fair share of clutter. In fact, we base our media decisions around it. We work with sites to gain a large share of voice within relevant demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and content-related areas. We negotiate with sales folks and sites to ensure our clients’ creative rotates on a page free of ads from competitors. Sometimes, we negotiate exclusive deals whereby our client “owns” a page, channel, ad unit, or site section. Most important, we always recognize that competition is constantly a click away.

Between this lengthy media planning process and the annoying offline guy’s boorish statements, it’s hard not to finger-point at offline clutter. Haven’t you ever been annoyed by a TV spot while watching your favorite show? How many times have you seen a TV ad that had absolutely nothing to do with the type of person you are or the type of programming you watch? Do you sometimes feel as if the ads will never end? Do you “click” away, keeping the remote housed on your lap?

A new “Television Commercial Monitoring Report” study by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers says that ad and promotion clutter increased in November 2001 over the previous year.

The November 2001 study results are as follows:

  • NBC was the most cluttered network, with 16:32 minutes of ads and promotions per hour of prime-time programming (down 43 seconds from the previous November).
  • CBS ran 16:04 minutes of ads and promos per prime-time hour (up 26 seconds from November 2000).
  • ABC ran 15:45 minutes (same as a year ago).
  • Fox ran 16:16 minutes (down 19 seconds).
  • UPN ran 17:00 minutes.
  • WB ran 17:00 minutes.
  • Early-morning shows at all networks averaged 18:02 minutes of clutter per hour (up 18 seconds from a year ago).
  • Local network newscast clutter was logged at 17:10 minutes seconds per hour (up 5 seconds from a year ago).

The biggest clutter increase was found to be between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with 20:57 of each broadcast TV hour devoted to ads and promotion. The slight decrease in TV prime-time clutter from November 2000 by all networks (except CBS) was attributed by experts to a soft ad market rather than to TV executives taking pity on viewers. David Poltrack, a CBS executive VP, disputed the report his network had increased ad-promotion clutter in prime-time. In a carefully worded statement he said, “We have not increased our commercial load in prime time.” This neatly skirted the possibility of CBS increasing promotion time.

Before you traditional folks differ with me through your emails, please note that I come from the traditional ad world (most of us did). I survived the fallout. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I work on holistic, multiplatform campaigns for clients. I strongly believe one media vehicle can support and augment another.

And… if you’ve gotten to the bottom of this article, I’ve survived some clutter myself!

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