Skipping Past Commercials

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September 16, 2014

Skipping Past Commercials

You may have paid for five million TV advertising impressions, but you certainly didn’t get them.

With over 700,000 sources listed from a Google search for “How do I skip the commercials with my DVR?” it’s clear that TV ad budgets are delivering but a fraction of the impressions that media buyers think they’re buying.

Think about it.  Compare the way you watch TV today with 10 years ago.  You watch far less “live TV,” and probably use some form of technology to skip the paid ads to return to programming.  After all, we’re not tuning in to watch the commercials.  And with toys like DVR remotes and devices like The Hopper, we don’t have to.

According to a recent Nielsen Cross-Platform report, nearly 11 billion person hours of time-shifted viewing occurred last quarter.  Process that: 11 billion hours of TV, time-shifted to a plane where viewers can easily, if not automatically, zap the commercials.

You may have paid for five million TV advertising impressions, but you certainly didn’t get them.

This type of time-shifting has yet to devalue the medium of radio.  Sure, there are podcasts (both paid subscription and free) that let radio talk show fans play their favorites on demand.  But most radio is still delivered and consumed live, with modern technology offering listeners the same choice to skip commercials as it did 50 years ago – change stations.  There’s simply no widespread zip-zapping past the commercials, which has compromised the equity of TV advertising.

Today’s radio also offers on-demand platforms like Pandora, where listeners program their own stations.  On Pandora (and others like it), there’s no skipping past the commercials.  When it’s time for a commercial, that’s what airs.  Unless you’ve paid the premium to listen to Pandora commercial-free (fewer than 10% do), you can’t change channels to avoid or time shift past the advertising.  You can either listen to the commercials or turn off the radio.

Pandora presently claims 230 million registered users and over 75 million of them use the service every week.  Advertisers can pinpoint target by age, gender and geography, coupling audio ads with clickable, on screen banner ads that get heard and get noticed.

We’ll make the assumptive leap that since technology didn’t evolve to time-shift radio like TV, the medium of sound is safe from this ad-skipping pandemic.  And that’s a clear win for RADIO over TV for actually delivering the audience impressions advertisers pay for.

Something to think about as you’re planning your 2015 marketing budget.

MLJune2014bMark Lipsky is the President and CEO of The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the email or RSS links above.Visit our website