Put a business guy and a tech guy in one room and it's just a disaster waiting to happen. In a classic commercial versus Utopian discussion of whether ads should be placed in RSS feeds, Calcanis and Winer go at it dissing barbs left and right. Winer doesn't think Calcanis has the "right" to have a business that involves RSS nor does he think Calacanis has the "right" to pay bloggers (with income generated by ads in RSS feeds) to publish their content. Accompanying the insanely questionable notion of that logic, Calcanis tells Winer, "You can cry about it all you want, but this train has left the station and you're still at the ticket counter bitching about why you even need a ticket."
The conversation is largely pointless. It's just version 37.8 of the same old "free versus pay" bitch session that's gone on since the first ad was scrawled on the wall of a cave. The conversation will never be resolved. There is no answer. People hate ads but they also hate to pay for content. RSS is simply the current whipping boy until the next new delivery medium comes along. One thing is certain. Where there are people, there will be ads. Get over it.
AdJab points to a post by Craig's List founder Craig Newmark in which Newmark says current.tv, the new Al Gore, community-created, viewer voted content cable channel, should make commercials part of it's communal approach by allowing viewers to give thumbs up or thumbs down to commercials.
While this might be a fair indication of whether or not a spot proverbially "resonates" with the viewer, the system lacks one important element: why. Why are the ads voted off or blessed as acceptable content. As Newmark writes in his post, "The devil's in the details..." and developing a system like this that would truly deliver feedback marketers need in an abuse-free manner is, certainly, a tall order.
Writing on his weblog, Association of National Advertiser President Bob Liodice offers six platforms which create the foundation for successful marketing. From product and service quality to continuous improvement to creating one to one connections with consumers, Liodice offers positive fodder for improving a company's marketing efforts.
Nielsen is having a bit of a tiff lately with ad agencies over its provision of television ratings. While the majority of ad agency execs want commercials rated, not the shows they air within, Nielsen claims they have already offered those ratings to agencies. Agencies have countered saying those ratings, 60-second unit measurements, do not adequately serve what's really needed, the measurement of actual commercial ratings. The way the 60-second unit ratings are taken do not align exactly with when commercials actually air. That is the sticky point agencies have with this offer from Nielsen.
This new method of commercial measurement, if it sees the light of day, could foster some radically different methods of television commercialization. If it's commercials that are measured and not the containing programs, all of the promotion that goes into hyping a television show to viewers in order to achieve high ratings could now go towards hyping commercials to viewers instead. Imagine NBC, faced with radically lower ratings because of ad-skippage, bathroom breaks, etc. The network would have to insure a high level of commercial viewership to maintain its ad rates. Conceivably, NBC would have to do whatever it could to make viewers watch commercials.
In theory, NBC would have to offer incentives to viewers to watch commercials. These incentives could be monetary in nature or come in other forms. Aside from possible Nielsen ratings that would "count" commercial viewership, embedded within the commercials (or before or after a commercial break) would be some sort of code or proof mechanism for the viewer to redeem. This would be necessary, not to prove viewership (although it could serve as a form of comparison to Nielsen ratings) because Nielsen would provide that proof with its new commercial ratings. It would be needed simply to get viewers to watch so high commercial ratings would be achieved for the network, then reported back by Nielsen, then used by networks as a basis from which to set rates for advertisers.
This could dramatically alter the definition of a commercial. While consumers might be swayed financially into watching a commercial, after a time, if commercials remain as boring as they currently are, no amount of money will get consumers to watch when they can so easily skip commercials. Commercials will have to take on elements of what I think is one of the better forms of promotion, the movie/TV trailer. Trailers, whether for good programming or bad, always seem to create the sense that you absolutely positively have to watch the movie/show being promoted. Does any current commercial today come close to that? Yes, promoting content is very different than promoting and ad but we're talking theory here.
That's just one idea. There could be many additional means to make commercials a "must watch" activity. A series of commercials could take on the form of a soap opera or serial drama where viewers would have to watch from day to day/week to week to either follow the story line or to receive other "incentives" for financial redemption. In this sense, commercials become a form of the programming.
In essence, this new economic model would compel networks to pay (or compel in some other very powerful way) viewers to watch commercials so that they can continue to sustain their current ad supported business model. Extrapolating this further, the current model is flipped on its head. Advertisers become producers and the programming becomes the commercial.
Charlotte Church as popular as Britney? Crazy? Maybe. But I have this feeling that she will be. If I'm wrong, I'll look stupid. If I'm right, I'll at least be able to say I said so.
Why do I say this? Well, she can sing. That always helps. She's 16 and sick of doing her operetic stuff and wants to go pop. She is starring in a movie. She's cute. She has an English accent. OK, so maybe some of those are stupid reasons.
Just remember, if it happens, you heard it here first.
BBCi: Charlotte Church makes her big screen debut