Digital and Advertising

This week’s class discussion and coursework focused on the effect of digital on advertising. The conversation got me thinking about commercials.

In the past two years, I have significantly cut back on watching live broadcast television and instead view most programs online on platforms like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube. This has significantly changed my commercial viewing experience.

In some ways, online commercials give viewers more control over their advertising experience. Then again, maybe it’s the illusion of control. Many of the videos I watch on YouTube begin with an advertisement, but after a certain number of seconds give the option to skip the ad. That’s not always the case when I view videos on other websites where I am required to watch an entire commercial before being able to view the video content. Sometimes I don’t bother watching the content if I don’t have the patience to sit through the commercial.


When I watch Hulu I am often given the option to choose my ad experience. Three commercials are offered with the instruction to pick one. I suspect most people are like me and just randomly choose an ad without giving it much consideration. So much for data mining. Hulu also offers an extended ad experience at the beginning of a program allowing the viewer to watch the show without commercial interruption.

What does all this mean for advertising? Brands have only seconds to capture a user’s attention according to this Inc. article:

Your advertising efforts ultimately boil down to the first five seconds. In these crucial moments, consumers decide whether they’ll buy into your brand or check out completely. After that, engagement drops drastically.

It’s funny to note I have been watching the 1960’s series Route 66 on Hulu. Chevrolet was the main commercial sponsor of the series back then and the program includes the old advertisements. These commercials are quite long compared to today’s ads, yet I happily sit through them and find them fascinating to watch. Go figure.

Speaking of old commercials, a political ad from 1964 recently resurfaced titled “Confessions of a Republican”. The actor in the ad plays a republican who is conflicted about voting for Barry Goldwater saying, “This man scares me.” The video, which has received more than 11 million views on Facebook, makes comparisons to some voters unease with Donald Trump’s run for the White House. It’s rather ironic that a fifty-year-old television advertisement can still connect with an audience as well as go viral over the internet.




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