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If I have to see Jack not fit into that MRI machine one more time…

February 5, 2009

So I have been watching the Hills a lot.  At work.  On my computer.

Don’t ask.

When you watch the full episode, there are five :30 second ad impressions that you have to watch.  Given the show, I don’t really mind watching ads.  But I swear, if I have to watch the same commercial of Jack on an operating table, from the fast food joint JackIn the Box one more time, I’m gonna hurl. I mean, to cap my frustration, I don’t even HAVE a Jack In The Box remotely close to where I live.

Marketers who are buying full episode inventory on sites like Hulu and MTV are taking advantage of a few things.  First, there are, of course, advantages to buying a more targeted audience online versus buying mass audiences on TV.  Unlike with YouTube, or with display advertising, or with advertising on TV, there is also significant quality of exposure advantages.  Most sites have done a great job of creating a great environment for presenting feature length content, and the associated ads.  Furthermore, advertisers are often able to buy out the inventory for properties like the Hills, on a given frequency, thereby avoiding all clutter from other advertisers.

In the traditional TV world, a lot of research has been done around the concept of an ad’s shelf life and fatigue factor.  Shelf life looks at how long an ad can stay in a given rotation before audiences get sick of it.  Fatigue factor looks at frequency, and how many exposures an ad can have before it begins to have a negative impact on brand attributes.  Advertisers really need to start doing some of this research for online advertising as well.  Because I am sure having to sit through the exact same ad 5 times, just to get through an episode of the Hills, is having negative impact on key Jack In The Box brand attributes.

As advertisers get more involved in content, they are going to need to start thinking more like programmers and less like advertisers.  Jack In the Box could have done several things to improve the overall video experience, and improve its overall campaign effectiveness.  For example, they would probably have been better served buying out all five ad spots per campaign, but only displaying 3.  Each of those ad pods could have had a different ad that helps unfold a single storyline.  Or, perhaps a better approach would have been to create one ad, which is shown at the beginning and towards the end, and also create some subtle brand integration into the show itself.  Perhaps a key scene could have taken place at a Jack in the Box restaurant, for example.

Either way, if advertisers are going to spend all that money on buying media, the least they could do is ensure that the overall experience they are providing is benefiting awareness AND brand attributes.  I am pretty certain that making people want to hurl whenever they see that huge white globe of a head Jack has, was not the intended effect.

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