Hostage marketing comes to an end

Dish Network just introduced its Hopper technology that enables customers to skip through the ads in shows they’ve recorded on their DVR.  It’s causing uproar in TV land as producers worry that with no ad revenue there’ll be no way of funding their shows in the first place.  The ‘old’ TV model relied on customers being held hostage and thus being forced to watch ads.  With the advent of VCRs and then DVRs, customers could, with some luck, skip most if not all the ads by fast forwarding through them.  The Hopper technology simply improves on something we all try and do anyway so it’s hard to see why there’s such a fuss.  Businesses that rely on taking customer’s attention hostage are doomed.  Let’s imagine that you couldn’t skip the ads just for a minute.  If that were the case and there was a two minute break in your show, isn’t it likely you’d use that two minutes to visit the bathroom, check email and or make a cup of something to drink?  In other words customers have choices that don’t involve watching annoying ads, so trying to find ways to prevent them from skipping them is like shutting the proverbial stable door…  Wouldn’t it be better if advertisers accepted that the old ad model was broken and instead focused on creating content that people actually wanted to see and engage with?  Ad agencies are very capable of creating such content but they need to be given the latitude to do so.  That said, they also need to propose a new approach to their customers rather than proposing the ‘old way’ yet again.  Advertisers and TV producers may complain about customers skipping ads but they should watch those ads and as themselves how many of them would they ‘choose’ to watch if they were given that choice?  My guess is that, if they’re honest, they’ll answer a big fat zero.  So instead forcing a diet of content on consumers that they don’t like, marketers need to focus on giving the customer content that they want to engage with.  If they do people will start looking for technology that gives them ads rather than the opposite.

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