A friend of mine works at a TV ad agency, and he recently came across some research material describing ad placement techniques during television shows. You know, those annoying, intrusive blocks that obscure your favorite programming? Here's the text:
We have come to the conclusion that there are further steps that need to be taken in order to maximize ad effectiveness during television broadcasts. Seeing as how this is a fairly new market, overlay ads have many options that need to be considered.
Firstly, placement. Our research indicates a pattern which has been holding consistently for the past eighteen months. While most people tend to look away or ignore an ad when the programming area is compressed, and the ad is shown in the new empty space, they have less propensity to do this when the ad is instead placed over the viewing area. To be clear, we should not simply squeeze a television broadcast (i.e., a show) to make room for an ad. That gives the viewer incentive to limit their perception to just the program viewing area, and they completely ignore our advertisement. Instead, we must leave the show on 100% of the screen, and simply lay our ad over a portion of the entertainment content. Testing has produced evidence that the bottom portion is best. We can technically get away with doing this, since at the most we're only obscuring 20% of the viewing area.
In addition to the "where" issue, there is also the matter of "when." When is it best to show an ad? When viewers are paying the most attention. Therefore, researchers should be requisitioned to watch programs and determine when a viewer is more likely to be curious about the area displayed on the bottom of the screen. For example, during an episode of a mystery television show, the detective discovers a note. He reads it silently to himself, displaying it for the audience to see. Most of the text is near the bottom of the screen. In order to get maximum attention, we should allow the audience the "token second" to view the note, and then obscure it with a relevant ad. That way, we've just gotten our share of eyes which would otherwise have avoided us at all costs. But this is only the half of it.
Further tests indicate that there are far more appropriate moments to show advertising, even when the audience isn't looking at the bottom of the screen. This all comes down to the moment of climax. Most television shows and movies all work toward a short, compact moment, where audience focus is at its peak. Viewers watch from the beginning, are taken for a ride, and are eventually made aware that the most important moment of the show or film is going to occur at any given moment. When it does, they are riveted. We have found that ads obscuring show content during these intense climax moments are, on average, clearly perceived up to 300% more often than those overlaid during non-climax moments. What's more, due to the emotional intensity of these moments, the sales message of an ad will tend to last longer in a person's mind if received during the climax. So obviously, obscuring the most dramatic and intense moments with advertising is the way to go.
While these techniques do prove powerful, preliminary polling shows that audience members are becoming increasingly frustrated with having their programming directly obscured by ads, especially during the points of climax. One viewer even went so far as to say, "They ruined the whole show." But we feel that these frustrations will eventually fade, assuming we continue to effectively communicate that there's nothing viewers can do about it. Of course, even if their displeasure continues to grow, our bottom line is what matters most.
[This was handwritten at the bottom:]
If viewers think they can get away with watching content on the internet with the advertising removed, then we must make up for it by shoving our ads down their ungrateful throats.
Just kidding. I wrote the whole thing myself. But I think I captured the general truth of the matter…If you enjoyed this post, I'd be delighted to have you as a subscriber to my RSS feed.