Skip to comments.New breed of TV ads popping up (pop-up ads coming to commercial TV)
Posted on 07/16/2002 1:04:37 PM PDT by John Jorsett
So you're lounging at home watching the heartwarming movie "Father of the Bride Part II" on TV. Actor Steve Martin is stressing. His wife and daughter are both pregnant. And then --- bam! --- up pops an advertisement superimposed over part of the TV screen.
"Expecting a baby?" the ad asks. "Call American Express Financial Services."
Within about 10 seconds, the ad is gone as the movie rolls on in the background.
The experimental ads ran this summer on TNT, and executives at the Atlanta-based cable network don't rule out using more pop-up ads.
None of this might be happening if traditional 30-second commercials got more respect. Many consumers treat them as an excuse to change channels. Advertisers worry they are losing their punch. And network executives fear commercial-skipping TV devices will make them obsolete.
So the TV business --- trying to battle back from a depressed ad market --- is trotting out a host of tactics that continue breaking down the already low barrier between commercial time and entertainment.
> Revlon bought its way into a story line on the soap "All My Children." (Susan Lucci's character arranges for her daughter to spy on a corporate competitor --- Revlon.)
> "Survivor" participants competed for sips of soft drink Sierra Mist and servings of Doritos. Both are products of show sponsors.
> A short-lived reality show on the WB network was called "No Boundaries," which, not so coincidentally, is the tagline for Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer, an SUV.
> On "The Other Half" talk show, advertisers reportedly can buy guest spots. (A Hyundai executive gave advice on car buying and leasing, according to The New York Times.)
"Advertisers are beginning to feel out what the new models of TV advertising are going to be," said Bob Thompson, the director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular TV.
Flood of commercials
It's still too early for the industry to compile thorough figures on how much money is being spent on nontraditional TV advertising. But industry executives say it's just a fraction of the $60 billion annual TV advertising market.
A prime time 30-second spot on the biggest networks typically costs $100,000 to $200,000, but advertisers complain that viewers are paying less attention to them.
Part of the problem is the deluge of commercial messages, which makes it harder for an ad to stand out.
Commercials fill an average of 15 minutes per hour of prime time on the big broadcast networks, up from 9.5 minutes in 1983.
But the proliferation of TV channels gives remote-gripping viewers more options for channel-surfing during commercials.
Advertisers fear they will have an even tougher time reaching viewers as digital video recorders such as TiVo become more popular and easier to use. The devices allow viewers to skip traditional commercial breaks.
"The audience defense against commercials is exceeding the advertisers' ability to hold on to the eyeballs," said Robert Lichter, president of the nonprofit Center for Media and Public Affairs.
Overall ad spending took a big dive last year, which put more pressure on TV networks to offer advertisers new options to spend money.
"I don't think the 30-second commercial is going to disappear, but I think we will be seeing a lot more innovative ways of presenting products to the public," said Debbie Solomon, a senior partner for MindShare U.S., which buys commercial time for advertisers.
But there's a big downside, Solomon warned. "I'm worried that there could be a point where the public becomes very unhappy with all these commercial messages everywhere."
New advertising --- from product placements to pop-up ads --- are likely to be in addition to regular commercials, not in place of them, she said.
Tactic born with TV
Weaving advertising into the content of shows began in TV's infancy. Back then, sponsors regularly had their names on popular shows, and characters were shown using products and pitching their benefits. That ended in the 1950s and 1960s.
Network executives learned they could make more money by having the programs made themselves and then selling commercial time to lots of different advertisers.
Lately, many networks haven't been waiting for commercial breaks to run promotions.
Networks such as NBC, USA Network and TNT have aired their logos on the screen and sometimes put up messages telling viewers what's on and what's coming on next.
The American Express ads that ran on TNT were notable because they opened the door wider than just network promotions. The mostly text ads ran in the bottom fourth of the TV screen and looked like pop-up advertisements from the Internet.
American Express paid to have the pop-up ads aired during 16 TNT movies this year. TNT chose movies that included what it describes as life-changing events to fit in with the American Express message.
"It's an attention-getting device," said Steve Koonin, TNT general manager.
The young adult viewers whom advertisers are most interested in may be among the most likely to accept the idea of watching commercials and shows simultaneously, said Lichter of the Center for Media and Public Affairs. After all, he said, they are comfortable with a multi-tasking TV screen a la CNN's Headline News, where video and headlines are always sharing space and dividing attention.
"The news [networks] have shown us that people will accept all sorts of things going on on their screens," he said.
The pop-up ads on TNT didn't spark a wave of angry phone calls or e-mails from viewers, said Koonin, who considers the ads a success. As with all new attempts at advertising, however, viewers are likely to have the final say.
"We have to see if the consumers are going to see the value in it," Koonin said. "I don't know if I'm sitting on a volcano or beachfront property."
If the advertising medium is ineffective, then the advertisers should at least save themselves the money and stop buying ad time.
What an idiot. The news tickers contain actual *news*, which is what the viewers tuned in for. In-show commercials are useless and obnoxious, and I can think of no better way for the networks to lose their remaining viewers.
I haven't seen TNN for months. I took them off my remote control channel sequence when they introduced a persistent banner running clear across the screen. Everything is, in effect, semi-letterboxed.
No the 30 second commercial will not disappear, but the "innovative" ways of commercials is not new also.
I remember watching an old Andy Griffith show(black and white) on an independent(not network affilliated) Pittsburgh TV station back in the 80's and in the closing credits a "pop up" ad of Post Toasties and other Post cereal products showed up. It was kind of cool seeing a complete original version sans the editing the syndicators do to old TV shows.
The pop-up ads on TNT didn't spark a wave of angry phone calls or e-mails from viewers, said Koonin, who considers the ads a success.
That's because they changed the channels.
As with all new attempts at advertising, however, viewers are likely to have the final say.
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