Lots of talk lately about You Tube, and about television advertising. There’s something I find interesting about the whole “everyone wthing digital copies of TV shows just skips all the ads” thing. True, most people will skip all a show’s ads if given a chance. But many people are happy to just watch commercials. Funny commercials have always been popular on, online or off. People forward video clips of funny commercials by e-mail, and funny commercials have always ranked high on sites like Stupid Videos. I haven’t spent enough time with You Tube yet to know if ads are popular there, but I suspect they are. Which leads me to speculate:
People do not like to have their shows interrupted by ads, but people are quite willing to watch ads separately if they are engaging. But in order to get seen, the ads have to propagate through some sort of social filtering system. Before you’ll watch an ad, someone you trust has to point to it for you, or it’s got to be ranked high on a site like You Tube or Stupid Videos. To use Malcom Gladwell’s vocabulary, they are social contagions.
There are those odd-balls out there, ad mavens in Gladwellian, who prefer to skip the shows and just watch the commercials. So savvy TV advertisers should be targeting the ad maven, and thinking of TV sponsorship as a way not to directly reach millions of people, but as a way to reach the right trendsetters to get the ad circulated around the Internet.