In 1960, Procter & Gamble could reach 80% of American women with one 30-second Tide commercial aired simultaneously on only three TV networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS. Today, the same ad would have to run on 100 channels to achieve this marketing feat and even then, it would run an increasing risk of being “zapped” by consumers armed with Personal Video Recorders such as TiVo or Replay TV. In fact, a recent study by the Yankee Group, titled. The death of the 30-second Commercial, calculated that by 2007 some $5.5 billion spent on TV advertising will be wasted.
Two forces are to blame for the demise of what used to be the most powerful means of hitting the consumer marketing bull’s eye. One is the fragmentation of American audiences and, with the advent of digital technology and the Internet, the media now used to reach them. Prime time ratings and circulations have been on the downside since the 1970s. What’s new is the proliferation of media and entertainment options – from hundreds of cable TV and radio stations and thousands of magazines and webzines to uncountable Web sites, blogs, video games, and cell-phone screens. Consumers not only have more choice of which medium to use, they also have a choice as to whether and how they want to receive commercial content.
And that’s part of the second force leaching oomph out of the 30-second spot. The new Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) allow consumers to eliminate commercials with the push of a fast forward button. The Yankee Group estimates that PVRs will be in almost 25 million homes or 20% of US households by 2008 and of those who use them, between 65 and 70% will fast forward through commercials. The Internet is even more of a threat, with a US penetration of 150 million users who can choose whether to view an ad by clicking on an icon.
So advertisers are adding a variety of new communication tools to their IMC kits and many of which are further blurring the line between advertising and entertainment. Participants on CBS’s Survivor series subsisted on Frito-lay’s Doritos, Pepsi-Cola’s Mountain Dew, or Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser beer. Firms are also using exclusive TV sponsorships. Fox’s series 24 premiered with a single sponsor, the Ford- 150 truck. Instead of ads breaking up the show, a three minute short film – very similar in style to the series and featuring the truck – ran both before and after the show. In addition, the main character drove a Ford Explorer. Other advertisers are just going beyond TV. Nike Europe has amassed a worldwide player base for the online soccer games it has launched in the past three years.