August 21, 2003

Obsolete Business Models

The children routinely use the "mute" button on the remote to silence TV commercials, for no reason other than that they are annoying.

If they are representative of the younger generation, the effectiveness of TV advertising is about to take a *big* dive.

Posted by DeLong at August 21, 2003 04:50 PM | TrackBack

Comments

I've known people who do that for 20 years. I think the operative phrase might be "has taken a big dive."

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on August 21, 2003 05:43 PM

Don't bet on it. Everyone in town knows the name of the car dealer with the most annoying ads, even if they hit the mute button. The effect is the same. The annoying message replays itself in the brain even if the TV sound does not.

Posted by: bakho on August 21, 2003 05:58 PM

This is obviously illegal behavior. They are viewing programming which is required to be accompanied by certain commercials which have been electronically attached. The "mute" button constitutes a circumvention device under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. According to the DMCA, this conduct represents a criminal act, not just a civil liability. Your children are therefore engaged in stealing, just as if they had shoplifted a DVD from a store. Magnanimously, however, like our associates in the RIAA, we will not be pressing criminal charges. Instead, expect a lawsuit with damages levied for each second of muted content. You will be hearing from our lawyers.

Posted by: Ralph Dratman on August 21, 2003 05:59 PM

This is obviously illegal behavior. They are viewing programming which is required to be accompanied by certain commercials which have been electronically attached. The "mute" button constitutes a circumvention device under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. According to the DMCA, this conduct represents a criminal act, not just a civil liability. Your children are therefore engaged in stealing, just as if they had shoplifted a DVD from a store. Magnanimously, however, like our associates in the RIAA, we will not be pressing criminal charges. Instead, expect a lawsuit with damages levied for each second of muted content. You will be hearing from our lawyers.

Posted by: Ralph Dratman on August 21, 2003 06:02 PM

This is obviously illegal behavior. They are viewing programming which is required to be accompanied by certain commercials which have been electronically attached. The "mute" button constitutes a circumvention device under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. According to the DMCA, this conduct represents a criminal act, not just a civil liability. Your children are therefore engaged in stealing, just as if they had shoplifted a DVD from a store. Magnanimously, however, like our associates in the RIAA, we will not be pressing criminal charges. Instead, expect a lawsuit with damages levied for each second of muted content. You will be hearing from our lawyers.

Posted by: Ralph Dratman on August 21, 2003 06:03 PM

This is obviously illegal behavior. They are viewing programming which is required to be accompanied by certain commercials which have been electronically attached. The "mute" button constitutes a circumvention device under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. According to the DMCA, this conduct represents a criminal act, not just a civil liability. Your children are therefore engaged in stealing, just as if they had shoplifted a DVD from a store. Magnanimously, however, like our associates in the RIAA, we will not be pressing criminal charges. Instead, expect a lawsuit with damages levied for each second of muted content. You will be hearing from our lawyers.

Posted by: Ralph Dratman on August 21, 2003 06:04 PM

My parents would do this at our home after they bought their first television with a remote control. However, the companies that buy the most annoying advertising just do not get any of my purchasing dollar. Whenever I see a product ad before a movie, I make a point to avoid purchasing that product and check out a competitor. I hate buying a seven dollar movie ticket and then have to sit through five minutes of commercials, with most of them consisting of soda pop ads. That's why I switched back to iced tea, and I'm happy with the change.

Posted by: brakmaster on August 21, 2003 06:57 PM

When I was a kid we had a similar strategy for dealing with annoying commercials. We changed the channel.

Posted by: nameless on August 21, 2003 07:27 PM

ObTiVoPlug: We got a TiVo when they first came out, and I haven't seen a commercial since. No, really: many, many times someone's said to me, "You know the commercial where..." and I have to honestly reply, "Nope."

TiVo (and its ilk) must have the advertisers scared.

Posted by: Diane Patterson on August 21, 2003 10:00 PM

Interesting - and a propos this: google's pop-up blocker have worked fine for me since I installed a week ago. Recommended!

BTW, I am tentatively sketching out a model where ad-makers can have large impacts on productivity gains. Gains that are wasted on faster depreciation of durable goods.

I will post it soon, have a look all you growth-optimsits and try to tear it apart!

Posted by: Mats on August 22, 2003 12:42 AM

I've been killing the sound during ad breaks for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I used to be pretty good at judging exactly the length of breaks: I could not just mute the sound but switch to teletext to read the news for the duration, and never miss any of the show.

About ten years ago, I was part of one of those market research studies that tries to measure the effectiveness of the advertising, and the researcher refused to believe that I didn't recognise *any* of the campaigns. After a dozen or so examples, one eventually arrived that I recognised, but I couldn't remember what it was advertising...

Now, though, all of this is irrelevant - I have decided to buy all the shows I watch on DVD and give up on broadcast television almost entirely.

Posted by: Rich on August 22, 2003 01:30 AM

"If they are representative of the younger generation, the effectiveness of TV advertising is about to take a *big* dive."

One thing clear to your regular readers is that your kids, alas, are not exactly typical representatives of the younger generation. :)

Posted by: rea on August 22, 2003 04:08 AM

It's Tivo that will make television advertising in the traditional format irrelevant, as someone above mentioned.

I think television in general will have to change completely, perhaps to some sort of subscriber service that allows people to choose certain shows. But as Tivo gains popularity, advertiser-supported television isn't going to work.

Posted by: Magenta on August 22, 2003 06:09 AM

You can find your remote?

Posted by: Nina on August 22, 2003 06:29 AM

My grandparents were the ones who always muted the commercials. I actually like a fair number of commercials, e.g. movie trailers, VW commercials, and so on. The music is also much more interesting and diverse on many commercials compared to what is on the local Clear Channel/Infinity stations, and, as a former musician, I find myself listening to the commercials for the music.

Posted by: Brian on August 22, 2003 06:45 AM

My grandparents were the ones who always muted the commercials. I actually like a fair number of commercials, e.g. movie trailers, VW commercials, and so on. The music is also much more interesting and diverse on many commercials compared to what is on the local Clear Channel/Infinity stations, and, as a former musician, I find myself listening to the commercials for the music.

Posted by: Brian on August 22, 2003 06:46 AM

You actually allow your kids to watch TV?

I've always envisioned your place not so much a home but as a hot-house for training miniature Einsteins - kind of like an intellectual version of I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang.

Posted by: Pooh on August 22, 2003 06:50 AM

Do you really think there is a distinction between advertising and programming? In children's shows, including Sesame Street, the characters are the product. Kids learn early on they can buy anything they see on TV, including Barney, Elmo and Teletubbies. Adult programs like Sex & The City are all about products: Carrie's Manolos stolen! It's only a matter of time before programming becomes one long advertisement with characters ordering brand name beer, complimenting each other on their brand name clothes and admiring each others cars.

Posted by: Chicagocon on August 22, 2003 07:36 AM

I've got to second what Brian said. I've never had a problem with commercials, it's only the bad commercials that are annoying. I don't buy products from companies that saturate my airwaves/radiowaves, with bad commercials. Commercials can be artful, and associating some product with something plesant isn't always an evil act. It's been my experience that 99.9% of all radio advertisements are *awful* painful even to sit through, and it doesn't seem to get better over time. The average television commercial seems to be improving (though i don't watch a lot of television), or perhaps, capable of improvement. I don't think its possible to make a good radio ad.

Posted by: Mark R. on August 22, 2003 07:52 AM

*This* younger generation? I started doing this
when *I* was a kid, and that was 25 years ago.
(It wasn't a remote control -- actually it was
a hardware bug in the TV, I think -- but it was
muted.)

Posted by: Andrew Plotkin on August 22, 2003 10:24 AM

Personally, I have given away my television, without looking back. But my dreams of enhanced productivity (learning to play the cello, writing and reading more, exercise) seem not to have materialized - I discovered blogs about the same time. :)

Posted by: andrew on August 22, 2003 11:39 AM

As for the rest, bring back the Swedish Bikini Team.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins on August 22, 2003 11:50 AM

Staying with a family of enormous wealth in London some two decades ago I discovered that the only television they owned was extremely ancient and very black and white. "We do it to protect the children," I was told by an otherwise quite normal billionaire. "Yeah right," thought Pooh "in other words you've got something vital missing in the top storey."

A decade later, visiting with a famous Rabbi, I was told that a television was nothing but "a sewer in the corner of one's living room." "Yeah right," thought Pooh "in other words, you're quite as weird in this department as the billionaire."

Today, on reflection, Pooh believes that it is he who might very well be a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic and not those two good gentlemen.

Posted by: Pooh on August 22, 2003 12:04 PM

Of course the business model will change.

Just look at the evolving ad model online -- in '96 moving gifs were the rage, '97 or so keywords on search engines were all the rage. Now it's not just flashing ads and popups but the most effective ads are scrolling down the SIDE of a page rather than on top.

The online world learns quickly and adapts quickly to survive and keeps response rates up.

Eventually television will figure out a way to keep viewership for commercials. Maybe the commercials themselves will be WORTH watching. Or maybe TV shows will go back to 'sponsorships' like they had 40 years ago.

The Open/American Express commercials with the reality show "The Restaurant" are a good example. Rocco shows up in them. And snippets of the show are in the commercial. Or is it that the commercial is in the show?

Ahah! Integrating the two...

Posted by: Gary on August 22, 2003 12:32 PM

We have owned a DVD player and a Tivo DVR for my daughter’s entire television viewing life.

On the rare occasion she must watch live television (e.g. at grandma's house), she finds the following intolerable:

- That she does not have at least a dozen personal, pre-recorded shows available on demand.
- That she must sit through commercials.

She will become indignant and refuses to watch television under these conditions.

Posted by: Steve Wilhelm on August 22, 2003 01:42 PM

I am amused that no one has risen to Ralph Dratman's bait, inasmuch as he is simply literally quoting--with tongue in cheek, I am sure--arguments that were publically and seriously made by some content-industry jackal about a year ago. I'm afraid I don't remember the guy's name, nor yet any shard of deathless prose that could be used to Google him by.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on August 22, 2003 02:05 PM

Some shows now will put a little ad logo in the corner of the screen for a few seconds during the program. Sporting events do this, I've noticed, and a few sports talk shows on TV have a major sponsor whose logo is visible on the set for the whole program. Product placement is another way to sneak up on those people who don't watch commercials, notably in a Survivor episode a few years back that received a lot of comment.

TV people are already recognizing the challenge before them, though I don't know if they can fully make up for the visibility their sponsors are losing out on from the population's changing viewing habits.

Posted by: Dimmy Karras on August 23, 2003 03:12 PM

Thanks to Tivo, my 3-year-old too does not tolerate commercials. If she's watching a show with commercials and a parent is too slow on the trigger to skip them, she'll yell "A COMMERCIAL!" as if our home is being invaded. If no parent is around she walks up to the TV and turns it off, assuming the show must be over.

On rec.arts.sf in Jan 1992 I 1) explained why all media/data (except software, databases, and live programming) will eventually be priced like shareware and compensated via voluntary micropayments; 2) predicted Napster-like file-sharing and the government's DMCA prior-restraint response; and 3) predicted the demise of interstitial advertising due to time-shifting technology like PVRs.
http://holtz.org/Thoughts/Correspondence/rec.arts.sf/1992-01.txt

Posted by: Brian Holtz on September 11, 2003 03:20 PM

Thanks to Tivo, my 3-year-old too does not tolerate commercials. If she's watching a show with commercials and a parent is too slow on the trigger to skip them, she'll yell "A COMMERCIAL!" as if our home is being invaded. If no parent is around she walks up to the TV and turns it off, assuming the show must be over.

On rec.arts.sf in Jan 1992 I 1) explained why all media/data (except software, databases, and live programming) will eventually be priced like shareware and compensated via voluntary micropayments; 2) predicted Napster-like file-sharing and the government's DMCA prior-restraint response; and 3) predicted the demise of interstitial advertising due to time-shifting technology like PVRs.
http://holtz.org/Thoughts/Correspondence/rec.arts.sf/1992-01.txt

Posted by: Brian Holtz on September 11, 2003 03:30 PM

Thanks to Tivo, my 3-year-old too does not tolerate commercials. If she's watching a show with commercials and a parent is too slow on the trigger to skip them, she'll yell "A COMMERCIAL!" as if our home is being invaded. If no parent is around she walks up to the TV and turns it off, assuming the show must be over.

On rec.arts.sf in Jan 1992 I 1) explained why all media/data (except software, databases, and live programming) will eventually be priced like shareware and compensated via voluntary micropayments; 2) predicted Napster-like file-sharing and the government's DMCA prior-restraint response; and 3) predicted the demise of interstitial advertising due to time-shifting technology like PVRs.
http://holtz.org/Thoughts/Correspondence/rec.arts.sf/1992-01.txt

Posted by: Brian Holtz on September 11, 2003 03:35 PM

Thanks to Tivo, my 3-year-old too does not tolerate commercials. If she's watching a show with commercials and a parent is too slow on the trigger to skip them, she'll yell "A COMMERCIAL!" as if our home is being invaded. If no parent is around she walks up to the TV and turns it off, assuming the show must be over.

On rec.arts.sf in Jan 1992 I 1) explained why all media/data (except software, databases, and live programming) will eventually be priced like shareware and compensated via voluntary micropayments; 2) predicted Napster-like file-sharing and the government's DMCA prior-restraint response; and 3) predicted the demise of interstitial advertising due to time-shifting technology like PVRs.
http://holtz.org/Thoughts/Correspondence/rec.arts.sf/1992-01.txt

Posted by: Brian Holtz on September 14, 2003 09:34 PM

On each and every attempt to post the above comment, I first checked the page to confirm the previous attempt(s) hadn't gotten through. This happens far too often on this blog -- is Movable Type really this broken?

Posted by: Brian Holtz on September 14, 2003 09:54 PM
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