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Commercials on Demand

By Brian | May 8, 2006 | Share on Facebook

From the Wall Street Journal online (via Hugh Hewitt): TiVo will soon be offering commercials On Demand.

For the most part, the marketers won’t run traditional 30-second TV commercials. Instead, they will offer longer ads that attempt to be more informative than typical commercials. Kraft, for instance, will offer 20 different cooking videos that will show such things as how to grill its Tombstone pizza, potato-salad basics, or how to create a cantaloupe-and-Jell-O dessert.

General Motors, likewise, will offer detailed video presentations about its vehicles. Ford is trying something more entertaining: one-minute takes of magicians Penn & Teller performing various tricks on a golf course, with a Ford vehicle shown nearby.

It’s an interesting concept, but I think it’s doomed to failure. To generate an audience for something, not only does the content have to be compelling, but it has to be someplace where people will look for it.

If I wanted to know how to grill a Tombstone Pizza, for instance, I’d probably go to Tombstone.com, or even more likely to Google. The reason I’d do this is because when I think “information need,” I instantly think “Internet.” The TiVo commercial might be a better product, but my sense right now is that if that’s truly the case, then they (or someone else) will eventually put a copy of it on the web, and Google will find it (side question: do you think Madison Avenue would get all up in arms over people illegally downloading bootleg versions of their commercials?).

To change my behavior, the On Demand ads must be more informative (or at least more entertaining) on a consistent basis, and there must be enough of a critical mass there to make me turn to my cable box first, as opposed to my web browser. That’s a long row to hoe…

On the upside, if this takes off, maybe they’ll take the commercials out of shows & just post links to the On Demand versions at appropos moments:

Donald Trump: You’re Fired!
TiVo: Click here for a video on writing your resume from Monster.com

Topics: The Future is Now | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Commercials on Demand”

  1. Jeff Porten says at May 8th, 2006 at 7:13 pm :
    Let me get this straight — there are people out there who can’t make a frozen pizza? And we allow them to own home electronics? Even I can do that, and I once blew the door off my microwave trying to cook a hot dog.

    More to the point, this strikes me as the first flailing attempts at coming up with a 21st-century advertising model. It seems to me that all advertisers are competing with TiVo and BitTorrent, and consumers who use both to skip their ads. The way around this is to provide better ad models, much as 30-second commercials replaced the Campbell Soup Playhouse of the 1930s.

    Infotainment strikes me as a good way to go, especially for cooking and other models where people already turn to television. One thing a video can do that Google can’t: time itself to the exact cooking time, and tell you exactly when to get up and rotate your dinner 90 degrees.

  2. Brian says at May 9th, 2006 at 9:21 am :
    One thing a video can do that Google can’t: time itself to the exact cooking time, and tell you exactly when to get up and rotate your dinner 90 degrees.

    Ah, but Google Video can!

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