TV Advertising: The Big Switch Off

screen monitor of an old television set
Photo by Talha Dursun Marko on

Those of a certain age will remember the days before the remote device which can change your TV channel from wherever you are lounging in the room. In those times, you had to actually get up, walk across to the TV (probably a rental) and turn a dial or press a button on the machine to switch over. The viewer was a captive audience.

TV channels were also limited then. In the UK adverts were confined to ITV and when it came on air – to Channel 4. Today we have an incredible number of channels which we can simply flick through without moving from our seat. There are also lots of different ways of viewing by many providers.

This has produced a problem for advertisers. People can just flick over between Ads and back to the programme when they have passed.

The advertising on TV channels is focussed on what is assumed to be the target audience for those programmes. Children’s channels show constant adverts for Toys. On channels which are geared to the older age group it’s a barrage of funeral options and charity pleas. The time of day will also affect the advert being shown.

But this ability to flick over has disrupted all of that.

Researchers looking into The Effect of Content on Zapping in TV Advertising have found that adverts which are really creative are effective at retaining the viewer whereas those that are informational are a big switch off. Viewers also click off when they become irritated with the content.

And now we are mostly all on social media the role of advertising on those sites has become increasingly lucrative to both the owners of those sites and the advertisers. We have even seen how it can be used to influence the outcome of elections and referenda.

When we think of the crucial role public health advertising has during a pandemic, making sure people are provided with the correct information, it is concerning that these are the type of Ads that many will click off.

Perhaps Government bodies should learn from John Lewis. Their creative and highly original Christmas Ads ensure that the viewing public not only watch them, but they talk about them too.

Categories: Science

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1 reply »

  1. I turn the sound off when the ads. start. I’d like someone to invent a gizmo which did that automatically, and/or one that could skip the ads completely, then return to the programme when they’re finished.
    I know that won’t happen, as advertising its too lucrative – the inventor would get no-where with their idea.
    I like the idea though, and if there was such a gizmo, we’d fix it to our telly, for sure.

    Some of them, I wonder what on earth they are for, but don’t think it’s worth turning the sound on as that would probably mean I got someone shouting at me, or very loud noises.
    Every now and then there is one that is well made and interesting – still doesn’t get me to buy things though. Whatever they do – they can’t get across what something smells like or tastes like.

    I don’t think I fit their demographic – what demographic do I fit? Grouchy old lady? Werther’s Original’s? I like them anyway – don’t need to be sold them.

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