Smart TV impact limited

30-second ad life expectancy shortened by TiVo's ilk

Amsterdam — The global recession in advertising comes at a time when the industry, as well as broadcasters, are already having palpitations over the ramifications of the digital revolution. Personal video recorders (PVRs) such as those marketed by TiVo, ReplayTV and Ultimate TV, are only the first generation of smart TV devices which can edit out ads and threaten, at the very least, the fate of the 30-second spot.

Industry analysts have found that as up to half of the commercials are being zapped out by PVR users. Admittedly, few homes have them and most are in the U.S., but advertisers as well as broadcasters anticipate major industry changes as a result of the digital revolution.

Here’s what a few industry toppers around the world have to say about it:

Michael Conrad, vice chairman and chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Worldwide: “The 30-second commercial will survive, but it might have more substance to its content. The attack on the U.S. forces us as an industry to evaluate our human values. Magazines are filled with glitzy appeals to self-image but when skyscrapers go down and so many are killed, we see that people really care fundamentally about other things. Our industry is one of change and I’d like to think that our content will reflect that change.”

Micheal Bungey, CEO, Cordiant Communications, chairman, Bates Worldwide,one of the world’s largest independent advertising networks: “People said when we switched to color TV it would be a disaster. It wasn’t. This industry will change, and it’s highly likely that it will force us to be more creative in that change.”

John Fawcett, creative director, Bates Worldwide: “The 30-second spot is not going the way of the dinosaur but maybe devices like Tivo and PVRs will make us work harder creatively.”

Joao Daniel Tikhomiroff, director and founder, Jodaf,an award-winning Brazilian commercial production house: “The way people respond to commercials and to programs is changing. Interactivity, for example, could be very big, but in the end, I think people will still want to sit back and relax and watch TV without having to interact.”

Karel van Doodewaerd, chairman, Dutch public broadcaster TROS:“From what I see, the PVR has been a complete disaster in the U.S. There are very few people using it. I’m not afraid of the digital future and I don’t think things like the PVR will threaten the ad industry. Consumer demand for almost all products is heavily researched except for the media technology sector, where consumer demand in several sectors has in recent times been relatively unproved.”

Sabine Fullhaas, director of strategic development, IP Deutschland:“Personal digital recorders (PDRs) or PVRs do not mean the end of the 30-second commercial. In fact, the idea of the PDR is strongly (linked) to free TV — without a bouquet of advertising-funded TV stations to choose programs from, PDRs are useless. New technologies make us reconsider the advertising approach in television. New advertising formats will gain importance, like split screens, sponsoring, exclusive spots and other special ads but TV will remain a mass medium — mostly financed by advertising of all kind.”

Michael Finkelstein, CEO, SBS Broadcasting:“Availability of technology does not mean that long established behavior patterns change immediately in response. High definition has been available in the U.S. for years but virtually no receivers are sold because the level of technological improvement does not justify the expense and trouble of obtaining it.

“The 30-second commercial is remarkably effective in selling goods and services. Ask any movie company if they will bow a new movie without it. The backbone of marketing plans is still the 30-second spot and it will remain so for some time.”

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