Ads, interruptions & blood soaked t-shirts

Posted by Dave CollinsGeneral, Google Ads

The Social Science Research Network have released a paper that claims advertising doesn’t necessarily negatively impact TV viewing.

Consumers prefer to watch television programs without commercials. Yet, in spite of most consumers’ extensive experience with watching television, we propose that commercial interruptions can actually improve the television viewing experience. Although consumers do not foresee it, their enjoyment diminishes over time. Commercial interruptions can disrupt this adaptation process and restore the intensity of consumers’ enjoyment.

Enhancing the Television-Viewing Experience through Commercial Interruptions

Great news for advertisers? Not exactly. Recurring illness might make a person appreciate their health more, but they’re never going to enjoy their periods of illness. And they’re never going to buy a pill that makes them sick for a day, so as to appreciate the rest of the week. At least I hope not.

Seth Godin believes that the days of interruption marketing are over. Interrupting your movie to demonstrate how Detergent X really does make your whites whiter than white isn’t a good idea. Or is it?

Assuming you don’t use the commercial break as an opportunity to run to the bathroom (or toilet as we vulgar Brits say), you’re unlikely to hold Detergent X responsible for the interruption. And chances are that when you’re next strolling along the mile-long aisle at your local WalMart (or 25 metre aisle in Tescos in Britain) you’ll notice Detergent X.

Ultimately there’s no way of comparing an interruption ad with one shown in context. Even ads in a magazine interrupt your reading, unless they’re placed at the end of a review of similar products. So if you’re reading this month’s Cleaner Household magazine and there’s an article on Making Your Whites Look New, the ideal place for the full page Detergent X ad would be at the end of the article. Especially if Detergent X gets a favourable mention.

The effectiveness of an ad is therefore going to be affected by placement, relevancy, context and how much the viewer is looking for a solution.

If the movie you’re watching contains a scene where the white t-shirt wearing soldier is spattered by mud and blood just before the ad break, and the typical viewer is sitting there shaking their head at the soldier’s poor mother who’s going to have to wash those clothes, a Detergent X ad might be perfectly timed.

The rest of us have to make do with Google AdWords.

Putting your product right in front of the people looking for it makes sense. You’re not interrupting them, you’re helping them. Assuming you’re targeting the right keywords, the ads tie in with their needs and the landing page screams out that they’ve found what they’re looking for, you can’t go wrong. Target the itch, present the solution and the itchy people will come running with their dirty white t-shirts and credit cards in hand. Without having to interrupt them.