One of my Ad Rants

TV killed radio. And now mobile is killing TV.

2 min read

Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the design and advertising industries for over 15 years.

Recent studies are showing that less people are fast-forwarding through commercials. Oh, but they aren’t actually watching them.

What are they doing? Well, what do you do when you’re bored for 120 seconds?

When a commercial comes up, the phone comes out.

Video killed the radio star.

Ever wonder how TV replaced radio back in the 1960s? This probably came out of every radio exec’s mouth: “Nobody will watch television. It’s just a fad.”

Then the dreamy John F. Kennedy beat sweaty Richard Nixon after their debate was televised. Uh oh.

Sure, some were pissed. They couldn’t comprehend how the words being said didn’t quite matter as much as the face they came out of.

Today, we don’t even question that idea. Yet that same resistance is happening.

The audience determines what's important to them.

And now, a word from our sponsors.

When fast-forwarding through commercials became a thing, networks looked for other ways to force people into watching commercials.

Then along came Hulu’s ads and other forced-view pre-roll formats. “Now they have to watch our commercials again,” the execs exclaimed! But just because you stop viewers from watching their show for a couple minutes doesn’t mean they have to watch your commercial.

The second, literally the second, that a commercial comes on, viewers pick up their phones.

Actually, even the networks are getting it. In a soon-to-be-no-duh realization, CNBC stated, “Every 15 or 20 minutes, right when there's a commercial break on TV, you just see this massive peak in [mobile] activity.”

The channels on your phone.

When the TV first hit the public, there were only a few channels. Those were the methods of distribution and we all recognized it.

In the same way, there are a few channels of distribution on our phones: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube (plus the revolving door of whatever the new thing is). This is where the attention is.

If you ignore those platforms, it’s like ignoring the TV back in the ‘60s.

Resistance is futile.

Advertising is not what it was even a few years ago. TV is quickly being dethroned from its advertising dictatorship. (Yes, I know I mixed governmental metaphors.)

I’ve already pointed out that some of the only people ignoring this fact are the schools. But shit, even AdWeek knew the 30-second spot was dead back in 2003.

The audience’s focus is changing. And their behaviors are changing with it.

Those who refuse to accept reality are the ones who will be left behind. You can kick, scream, and deny the truth for as long as you want. However, if you don’t realize that you’re simply being romantic about a dying reality, you’ll be left behind.

And we’ll just post #goodbye.

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Also published on Medium.