David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R, recently wrote of the advertising revolution – where TV returns to prominence, as Google’s and Facebook’s ROI diminishes. 

And if he, and the data, is right that it’s better value to reach audiences via TV commercials then that opportunity needs to be seriously considered by:

  1. Companies (Marketers) when briefing their agencies; 
  2. Agencies when they are creating strategy, creative and planning media buys; and, 
  3. TV networks when they are selling space and integrations – especially via their on demand platforms. 

So — (ignoring programmatic) — how can marketers, planners, strategists, creatives and programmers work together to improve the audience’s viewing experience, while ensuring their messages reach the consumer, err, audience?

Marketers consider the product’s sales, creatives consider the brand, programmers want people to watch the show and sales people care about selling spots and integrations. Who’s considering the audience during the ad breaks? 

Netflix considered this. Now they have 100 million subscribers. In TV, ratings are continuing to decline… and the share price of Channel 10 is less than 50 cents.

Perhaps it’s time TV networks created a set of Entertainment Specs for their channel, outlining requirements an ad needs to meet around relevance, originality and entertainment value in order to be on their channel (during prime time). 

For example, ads on during Masterchef, could be more than just food related: they should also entertain or inform the consumer to enhance their viewing experience. A sauce brand could do a 60 second recipe/cooking spot, a stain remover might follow with tips on cleaning sauce from clothes, and a sports brand could round out the segment with a series of exercises to work off those carbs. Whatever it is, to appear during Masterchef, an ad should be on brand for the network and the advertiser, so the audience doesn’t want to switch off during the breaks.

Think about how great this advertising approach could be during comedy shows. If funny shows required funny ads – people might tune in for 30 minutes of continuous laughs, rather than just for the show. Kind of like how people watch the Superbowl for the ads, even if they don’t like the sport. 

What else could a network do differently to better connect with the audience during the ‘ad breaks’?

  1. Do something Live – in London, Google Play crossed to Sam Smith live in concert singing his hit “Stay” for the entire 3.30”. Everyone loved this, but 3 years later, it’s still a rarity. Same with hosts of shows doing live ad breaks – see Graham Kennedy sell shoes.
  2. Make ads that are Funny/Sad/Poignant – think twice about selling on price. Tell a story the audience will relate to. And get them involved. There is almost always a second screen present when people are watching TV, so why not use this to your advantage and engage them? 
  3. Work with the network’s audience and brand – create programming paid for by the Brand – see Carlton Draft’s The Front Bar or Westpac’s Air Rescue — to get better brand awareness, improve affinity and create brand stories audiences want to watch. You can then extend that content into other areas (digital, OOH, on pack etc) – increasing reach and ROI for your campaign. And then in the ad breaks, use the extra content as your ads.

Because, if a TV ad is playing but no one is watching, will the reach affect sales?