The TiVo Trap

Advertisers are stuffing more commercials into TV programs:  the average hour show now has 40 minutes of programming, down from 46 minutes only a few years ago.  And, viewers are using ever more clever ways to skip them – from TiVo to watching TV shows on the Web.  What is an advertiser to do?  How can we marketers continue to reach our prospects in this brave new world?

One trend is for advertisers to create ads that have a story line all their own.  MTV recently featured a series of ads for Dove body wash that starred Alicia Keys and followed the lives of three roommates in their mid-20s living in New York City.  This “micro-series” (as MTV calls it) is essentially an extended advertisement, yet it retained 93% to 100% of the show’s audience.


Another trend, established by BMW, features a single documentary-style spot at the beginning of the show and quick follow-up at the end of the show with no commercials in between.  Viewers had overall positive reactions, describing the ad as “brilliant.”


Regardless of the method you choose, it is clear that we marketers need to think outside the box and come up with new and different ways of reaching our audiences, lest we fall into the TiVo trap.


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