According to a recent study from eMarketer, we can expect online ad spending to trump TV from here on out. While this historical first may seem like a bummer to those of us who treasure the art of the television commercial, the inevitable growth of online advertising does not necessarily mean it’s a dying art. In fact, eMarketers’ study shows TV coming out of the ad battle alive and resolute.
As Generation DVR continues to exercise the right to skip TV ads entirely, and more and more take advantage of high-speed internet and it’s magical streaming capabilities (which come with the added bonus of limited commercial interruptions), advertisers and marketers are left grasping for straws. When my grandma was born the concept of television had not even been thought up yet, but here I am writing about how it is being taken over by something bigger and better (and more expensive). Now, toddlers watch Spongebob on iPads in restaurants and those obligatory YouTube ads are over before I’m done sneezing and no, I did not catch the Oscars this year because I don’t even have cable. Sigh. How do advertisers cope with this anomaly?
It seems the logical answer would be to continue to cut down on ad length in hopes of holding the attention of watchers whose brains (and remote controls) are on autopilot. But surprisingly, big name companies have been crafting shockingly long commercials; one by Cartier ran three and a half whole minutes, and in a precious prime time slot no less. Now why would a company like Cartier, a relatively small television advertiser in the U.S. according to AdAge, purchase a costly multi-minute ad in the wake of digital media‘s triumph over TV? Are the extra minutes worth their weight in gold? (Jewelry industry joke…sorry, I had to.)
With consumer attention so fractured, the extra-long ads can help a particular marketer stand out even to DVR viewers. What that means: Viewers may not be exactly inundated with TV spots that seem to be more like mini-documentaries, but it seems clear that they will be served longer ads from a shorter stack. -AdAge
And Cartier isn’t alone. Old Navy and Chipotle are among those dreaming up elongated, story-like ads and Chrysler was bold enough to air a two minute-er on the Superbowl this year. Yup, they went there. And it seems to have worked. AdAge’s article, (“Does TV Have Time for Two-Minute Ads?”) even suggests that the extended digital media versions of some other 30-second slot Superbowl ads were more popular and successful than those aired during the event.
So are these commercials worth the splurge? When viewers are being pulled in a million different directions, overwhelmed by media and epileptic-shock-inducing advertising sequences at every turn, maybe these longer commercials allow us to catch our breath for a second and better absorb promotional information. Maybe we don’t give our attention spans enough credit. Maybe these longer ads could create competition (and spending) among industries, encourage convergence and interaction among viewers, and (when integrated with other marketing tactics) add an unforeseen dimension to TV advertising. Or maybe, we’ll just have to wait and see.
What’s your take on the future of television ads?