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Too many ads?
March 2, 2010 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Why does it seem like there's more advertising on tv today?

I don't watch a lot of television, but I was last night and it seems that there are far more commercial type things than there used to be. There were banners during the show and a lot of product placement. Has running a TV show become more expensive or what happened in the last ten-ish years?
posted by khaibit to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, this sounds a bit flippant, but I think it's a simple as this: the media companies have been continually pushing the boundaries of how much advertising is considered acceptable.
posted by jzed at 7:21 AM on March 2, 2010


In a capitalist system where corporations are responsible to shareholders, there is pressure to increase profits each year. TV networks make earn profits from advertising.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:23 AM on March 2, 2010


Tivo and it's ilk can be held partly responsible for in show pop ups, if your fast forwarding through the ads put reminders in the show itself.
posted by Max Power at 7:29 AM on March 2, 2010


yup. there's more advertising. The ratio of content to advertising has decreased steadily over the past 40 years. I don't have the statistic handy, but it can be found in this book.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:33 AM on March 2, 2010


Sorry, no time to answer this properly with citations and such, but the short answer to your question is "yes". Actually, this has been a trend since at least the 90s.

Network television shows are both shorter than they used to be, due to more commercials, and run fewer episodes per season.

The biggest reason I believe is simply salaries. Big stars such as Jerry Seinfeld could command pay that dwarfed that of your typical unknown sitcom actor from the old days. It used to be that you could only make the big money in movies. Once main actor salaries went up, ensemble casts push hard for their own larger pieces of the pie. Not much different to what happened to pro sports.

I'd be willing to bet that production costs have increased significantly as well, though, again, no cites on that for the moment.
posted by hiteleven at 7:33 AM on March 2, 2010


A lot more research and time goes into calculating ads which will penetrate your attention span and capture your attention and interest. Advertisers know they are competing in a very busy mental environment so they work hard to position themselves "at top of mind" - which means loud, outrageous, colorful, fast editing, etc. On top of that, tv (particularly reality television) is chock full of product placement and more subtle "brand emphasis" campaigns which might make you feel bombarded with products and services. Ad Rant and Ad Freak are both websites with interesting, non-hack analysis of the ad world.

Production costs are also high, but more likely networks are trying to recoup their costs for all the failures that they make by advertising heavily during the few actual hits they have. People won't stop watching Lost just because it's got too many intrusive commercials/banners for the upcoming ABC drama "Garbage - the show". Back when independent tv production companies actually existed, a sinking ship of a program would be jettisoned without nearly as much damage to the actual network. Now that networks are evilly deregulated, they are much more insistent on owning their own programming, and as a result, when the 200 million dollar catastrophe of a flop happens, they foot the bill for the entire production on top of the usual marketing costs, etc.
posted by SassHat at 7:34 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because there are more ads.

The percentage of an hour of broadcast made up by advertisements has grown from about nine minutes in the 1950s to about twenty minutes today.

Certain shows, particularly dramas with large casts, have gotten more expensive--and the cheapness of reality programming explains why there's so much of it--but I think the bigger factor is that television advertising budgets are plummeting, so the networks need to sell more air time than they used to to make up for falling budgets. If you can't sell one commercial at $100, maybe you can sell two at $50, etc.
posted by valkyryn at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2010


I should revise that: it has not decresed steadily. There was a dramatic increase in advertising in the 1990's due to the deregulation by the FCC of corporate ownership standards.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:35 AM on March 2, 2010


I don't know about the US but I imagine you have a similar situation to the UK in that the number of channels is increasing faster than the audience. When there are less people watching you can't charge as much for the slot and so need more ads to keep revenue up.
posted by missmagenta at 7:36 AM on March 2, 2010


One thing I do recall, from watching lots of TV from 1984 to 1992, was that nearly all commercial breaks were EXACTLY TWO MINUTES, consisting of exactly 4 commercials and maybe a 5-second spot. You could practically set your watch by it and do something in the kitchen. Nowadays it seems the breaks are all over the map or run for 3 minutes or longer, and they're chock full of 5- and 10-second spots so there's no way to keep track of the progress of the commercial break. I don't know how it all stacks up in terms of time, though.
posted by crapmatic at 7:52 AM on March 2, 2010


If you ever watched the syndicated hour of Simpsons that Fox showed (it's been quite a while since I've lived back home, but they were on every evening, around 6), bits would be missing. The opening would be cut to a fraction of the original. The early seasons, the shows were longer. Now, there are more ads per hour, which has caused cuts in syndicated shows from before. The banners and whatnot I can't attest to (dear god, that sounds awful), but even going back to the late nineties, the commercials per hour were steadily rising, and there were complaints about it back then, too.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:00 AM on March 2, 2010


The plummeting of advertising budgets is not the only problem, though it is certainly the latest and most troubling one. Salaries were still the major factor affecting costs, however.

Take this point from the Wikipedia article on Friends (note: I do not watch Friends):

"In their original contracts for the first season, each cast member was paid $22,500 per episode. The cast members received different salaries in the second season, beginning from the $20,000 range to $40,000 per episode. Prior to their salary negotiations for the third season, the cast decided to enter collective negotiations, despite Warner Bros. preference for individual deals. The actors were given the salary of the least paid cast member, meaning Aniston and Schwimmer had their salaries reduced. The stars were paid, per episode, $75,000 in the third season, $85,000 in the fourth, $100,000 in the fifth, and $125,000 in the sixth season. The cast members received salaries of $750,000 per episode in the seventh and eight seasons, and $1 million per episode in the ninth and tenth. The cast also received syndication royalties beginning with the fifth season."

You read that right. Their salaries went from 22 grand per ep to a million, plus syndication royalties. And this is far from atypical. I believe Kelsey Grammar's pay when in the stratosphere towards the end of Frasier.
posted by hiteleven at 8:00 AM on March 2, 2010


There are also fewer viewers in general, and way more 'inventory' of ads on the internet for people to buy, cheap. So advertising prices have come down, which means TV stations need to cram more ads down people's throats.

It's actually somewhat self defeating, but when NBC tried a cheaper show (the Leno show) it was a disaster.
posted by delmoi at 8:14 AM on March 2, 2010


I'm hardly a fan, but Leno in primetime didn't fail because it cost less to make than Law & Order. NBC wasn't expecting high-end primetime ratings, but because of the cost it wasn't as concerned. Then the local newscasts got upset because it meant they had a crappy lead-in. Reality TV is cheap too, but that works, and we get a lot of it.

As far as commercials, another casualty of modern viewing habits is the shortening/loss of the opening credit sequence. And if memory serves, networks used to have commercial breaks in between shows, but to fight wandering viewers, they now use the end credits for promotional spots, then go right to the next show. So that adds to the commercial count during the actual show, but it makes sense.

If by banners, the OP means animated ads that take up a corner or bottom third of the screen (sometimes with sound effects), then that's a result of channel surfing/TIVO FF'ing during actual commercial breaks. Annoying as hell, but perhaps a necessary evil. I used to notice it most during Fox Sports Network telecasts, but either they've cut down on them... or I just notice them as much anymore, which would worry me.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:38 PM on March 2, 2010


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