In a blog post, “And Now a Word From Our Sponsors,” Chase Wegmann wrote how television shows are returning to the radio-era practice of hosts giving live commercials for sponsors. He writes how it is one of many ways marketers are trying to mix things up and present products in new ways.
Chase doesn’t really touch on why this is happening. It has become common knowledge that people are spending less time watching television, that everyone’ attention is splintering. There are more diversions and hobbies now than there ever been in society. All of the past times of yesteryears are still accessible — whether a variety of sports, parlor and card games, or newer media of television and music — but digital diversions and hobbies have supplemented those. People are playing Scrabble on Facebook, chatting in message boards, doing fantasy baseball online, following the latest ARG, playing World of Warcraft, or enjoying a multiplayer game of Call of Duty 4.
People have less patience, not settling for only one or two hobbies to fill their hours. They also have lost patience for typical advertising that pushes too hard. So marketers keep trying new things to invigorate their business. Besides the many experiments in traditional media, websites and online media are also featuring increasing complex advertising. Revision 3’s shows have host-given commercials, sites have more interactive banner ads with games and audio, sites devoted to movies have small ads that expand into a full film trailer, websites will have their entire background and all ads taken over by a company, many video sites overlay annoying advertising over the bottom third of a clip, videogames have product placement and billoards inside them, and many websites (including our sister-site Inc.com) have advertorial content.
Advertising has since become a mess. Viral marketing, sponsored contests that bleed into the real world, ads posted everywhere you can imagine; all of this just makes people more jaded to the act of being sold to. I think people will continue to tune out and the hard sell will become marginalized. And while most forms of advertising won’t disappear, it will be those that encourage customer control that will thrive. User-generated content and non-intrusive experiences should be the new focus. Else marketers will find themselves without a market.