TV commercials were the interruption, the necessary annoyance that came along with main attraction. Then all the rules went out the window in 1999, when TiVo allowed viewers to skip ads, posing a threat to the entire business model.
Now we're on the verge of yet another transformation of TV advertising. In the new model users won't be able to skip ads as easily — but they won't want to, because the ads will be as interesting as the content itself.
Marketers are increasingly learning from the Super Bowl’s advertising bonanza, when some 30-second spots have much more value, and longer life online than their punch during the game itself. That is to say, the best ads can multiply their impact by many times by going viral.
The bottom line, as CEO of Funny or Die Dick Glover put it, "people don’t hate all ads, they just hate bad advertising."
That means a few things: Marketers are trying to pump up the quality of ads, to build content around brands, and to make ads so targeted, they’re useful instead of annoying.
Hulu delivers fewer ads than traditional TV by making them more targeted to viewers. It even lets people streaming shows on its site pick which ad they want to see, with a service called “Ad Swap.”
Even traditional TV ads are finding ways to engage viewers in interactive new ways. About half of this year’s Super Bowl ads worked with a mobile app called “Shazam,” which is best known for identifying what song is playing on the radio. Users could use the app to “listen” to ads, then have the ad direct them to more information — or deals and even games — online.
And then there are companies like Funny Or Die, which create content around brands — so the marketing message is the main attraction.
"Stay Tuned: The Future of TV" premieres Monday, May 7 at 9 p.m. ET, with a re-air at 12 a.m. ET.