Friday, June 20, 2014

Advertisers have lost the attention of a generation. An update.

Yesterday I was directed to an article in "The Financial Times," called "Advertisers have Lost the Attention of a Generation." Read it here.

It seemed that the assertion in the title was based on a startling statistic. Teens watch only 21 minutes of broadcast television a week.

Some time after the article was published, a correction was issued by "The Financial Times."

The 21 minute statistic they mentioned was wrong. They meant 21 hours.

That's like saying "The US suffered only minor casualties in Iraq; only 21 died." Then finding out 1260 died and not revising the gist of the article.

It's like saying "New Lincoln gets only 10 miles to the gallon." Then discovering it gets 600 mpg.

When something material changes you should change your material.

In fact if teenagers are watching 21 hours of broadcast television a week, I would say television advertisers haven't lost a generation. I would say a new generation has embraced television. Especially since it seems so many young people watch primarily cable TV. And the 21 hour/21 minute stat was based on broadcast viewership.

I realize people--exponents of the death school of television--will say, "yeah, but they're zapping commercials." Or "they're tweeting while they're watching." Or "they're in the other room making grilled cheese."

But that's not the point. Or the points.

1. When the stat you've based your article's thesis on changes by a factor of 60, you have to either revise the article, or, better, pull it all together.
2. Unless you're writing editorials, you should try to remove your personal biases from your reporting.
3. There's this misguided idea that people of my generation and older were chained to the TV set and they practically seduced and mesmerized by commercials. That commercials had some sort of hypnotic effect on them. All because the consumer wasn't in control like they are today.

That notion is below even hogwash.

People ignored commercials in days of yore. We watched TV while reading a magazine.  Or we went into the kitchen to make grilled cheese. We've done all that since the advent of TV 65 years ago.

If anything has lessened viewership of TV spots, it's not dvrs.

It's that networks and cable stations in their greed have made commercial pods too long. They easily last five minutes now. That's plenty of time to decide to do something else.

Personally, I believe viewership of spots would increase if:
a) Spots were longer. More 60s, please.
b) They were shown in shorter pods.
c) Brands sponsored entire shows like they did in the early days of TV.
d) We made more shows "events." We brought "live" back.

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