Issue: Fox experiments with shorter ad blocks
Commentary by: David Vinjamuri
For a decade or more, advertisers and networks both have been bemoaning the loss of audience for advertising.Â Part of the culprit was a drop in the overall prime-time television audience, which declined by a third or more in less than ten years (even as the overall U.S. population climbed).Â To listen to the networks, however, we would think that digital video recorders and ad-skipping consumers were solely to blame.
Fox has just proven that this was never the case with an interesting experiment on the new prime-time drama, Fringe.Â Â The show debuted with fewer ads in shorter blocks (Fox, of course, charged more per ad).Â The result, according to AdAge:
Brand recall of ads that appeared during the first episode of “Fringe” was 32% higher than that of commercials appearing in traditional broadcast-TV programs, according to Nielsen IAG. The level of “program engagement,” or audience attentiveness, for “Fringe” was the second highest among debut episodes on broadcast TV in the past year (only NBC’s “Chuck” did better, IAG said).
We like this strategy for two reasons.Â First, it re-contents television which for many years has been incrementally adding more commercials per hour (advertisements in the 1960′s ran for just 8 minutes in an hour – last year it was 18 minutes for the same hour).
Equally important in our view is execution.Â Fox wisely inserted time markers before the newly shortened ad blocs.Â “Fringe will return in 60 seconds” was a very effective inducement to keep viewers stuck in place, hands off the remotes.Â Without these prompts, we doubt that the new strategy would have functioned as well.Â They set expectations for consumers and allowed viewers to make rational decisions, which benefited the Fringe advertisers more than on similar shows.
Advertisers and networks need to continue to take responsibility for the sad state of broadcast advertising.Â Showing more and more bad advertising just won’t work.Â Thanks to Fox for taking a step in the right direction.