Commercial Ratings Could Eliminate Awards Shows


If you look at it honestly, advertising's sole purpose is to sell stuff. Forget all that crap about brand building because it's all the same thing. You build a brand so it connects with people so they are more inclined to buy from said brand. Advertising's purpose is not, despite what many would like to think, about winning rewards or creativity. Clio. Cannes. ADDY. One Show. Create. Webby. ADC. Andys. Irrelevant. You disagree and claim the winning of awards helps agencies win accounts? Fair enough but wrong.

What if we lived in a world where we knew exactly how well received our commercials were the second they aired? Well, if Nielsen and the rest of the industry can get their shit together, we may soon see that world. Commercial ratings have been much discussed over the last few years but scant progress has been made. Some half assed solutions have been put in place and even more half assed solutions have been suggested. Who wants half an ass when they cab have full on booty? Yea, we thought so.

In Advertising Age today, Jonah Bloom discusses the issue as we have several time before here on Adrants. The net? We have the necessary technology to make this happen. It's dusty old models and back room handshakes that are preventing us from moving forward. It's like Verizon forcing you to upload your images instead of connecting your phone to your computer to access them. Every phone can do this. Verizon disables the feature so they can charge for airtime. Sure, they make money but it's wrong. It's bastardizing technology. This industry doesn't need to be Verizon. It can be open source. Better commercial rating beget better ads because ad performance will be a known quantity on a constant basis.

To be clear, commercial ratings will not measure everything nor be the Shangrila of advertising metrics. Just because an ad is highly watched does not mean it will drive people to act. Just because an ad isn't highly viewed does not make it a bad ad. But commercial rating get closer to what's important. Did anybody see the friggin' thing. With commercial rating in hand, a vastly different television model could emerge. Three years ago (yes, that's how long this has been going on) we posited an ad model where networks would actually promote the viewership of commercials rather than programs because, with commercial ratings, that, in one sense, would be all that mattered.

In that piece, we wrote, "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 (from the nets, etc.) becomes the commercial." Some of this is already happening on both sides of the equation. Advertiser are, in fact, creating entire bodies of programming and networks are continuing to blur the line between programming and advertising such as in the case of MTV's new Thursday night programming block which mashes up ads with programming.

So again. Clio. Cannes. ADDY. One Show. Create. Webby. ADC. Andys. What's their purpose? Do we really care how "pretty" and ad is? Shouldn't all these award shows be lauding ads that perform and ads that deliver results rather than ranking them based on looks? The current landscape of awards shows are as meaningful as Hot or Not. Oh wait, that's fun but that's besides the point.


While we might appear a bit down on the whole awards show thing we will admit they do still have a place in the business. After all, without awards shows, there'd be no reason to dress up in our best all black hipsterati-wear, ogle other's work while sputtering meaningless puffery-laden commentary, get an all-expenses paid boondoggle while office interns make excuses to clients as to why a project is going to be a week late or to hook up with that hot French German chic while at Cannes.

Oh wait, that all sounds fun! See you at Cannes.

by Steve Hall    Apr- 9-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion, Research, Television, Trends and Culture   

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More than half the stuff in award shows are scam anyway.

That said, the creative shows are there to celebrate the creativity behind the idea. Which, hopefully, is effective. But that's not their main focus--that is what the Effies/Kelly's are for.

Posted by: Lugnut on April 9, 2007 1:30 PM

Seems to me a winning ad is one that results in an increase in sales ... shows, awards, and ratings be damned.

Posted by: amy on April 9, 2007 1:50 PM

The beauty of a career in marketing is that it is pure hoodoo. Everybody claims to know what works; no one really does. For every brilliant ad campaign that triples sales, there's a stunningly ugly, crass and awful campaign that triples sales, too.

After a long, long time in this business on the agency side AND the client side, I now believe that sales jump when a really good product and an actual consumer need meet. Word gets around.

Whatever ad campaign happens to be running at this magic moment is declared to be GENIUS. Careers are made, large boats are purchased, and much cigars and Barolo are had.

This happens despite the fact that the people involved almost never had very much to do with what happened in-market.

The hoodoo lives forever. Marketers and researchers ad agencies will forever chase after data like crack-addict weasels, in hopes of bottling the right kind of snake oil to sell to the people who foot the bill for all this.

Yesterday's snake oil was creative awards. Today's is digital-whatever-snakeoil. Tomorrow it will be digital millisecond-by-millisecond ratings. The day after that it will be creative awards again.

It's a fun merry-go-round, so long as you don't take any of it too seriously.

P.S. If you're reading Adrants, or worse -- posting something to it like me, I have bad news for you. You're taking this too seriously.

Posted by: Tom on April 9, 2007 2:13 PM

Oh come, Tom:-) We're just here to have fun. We love to crap on awards shows but we love to go to them too! But, yes. We do all take this too seriously.

Posted by: Steve Hall on April 9, 2007 2:42 PM

Goes back to why I got into this business, and why I constantly fight to make creative work:

We could put crappy, annoying, intrusive ads out there that effectively sell to people.

Or we could put funny, entertaining, engaging ads out there that effectively sell to people.

I choose the latter, and will do all I can to fight against the former. Otherwise, we're just a polluter and, not to mince words, an uninvited jerk. If you are intruding on people's lives, asking them to buy or believe, then you'd better be gracious enough to give something back. It's common courtesy.

That's what separates advertising from creative advertising.

Posted by: Darcio on April 9, 2007 6:45 PM

Eliminate awards? Never happen. How could you even begin to quantify the effectiveness of just TV on a brand? There's web, POS, print, radio, DM, etc. Is Nielsen gonna now rate the mail? Or bus shelters? People can't even accurately count the number of clicks that lead to actual sales, how they goinna say which ad drove people into a store vs. one that didn't?

Posted by: makethelogobigger on April 9, 2007 11:33 PM

I met that girl at Cannes. She was German, not French.

Posted by: Scott MacMillan on April 10, 2007 2:38 AM

Nothing wrong with awards. Compare with the movie biz. You got your awards (the Oscars) and your effectiveness (box office). Room for both, no?

Posted by: Scamp on April 10, 2007 9:52 AM

We've had commercial ratings -in effect- for years in the UK, and they don't seem to make the awards remotely redundant. They merely show the idiocy of counting exposures, in any form, as a guide to effectiveness

Posted by: Roderick White on April 10, 2007 12:07 PM

It looks like couch from 180's Cannes villa that girl is sleeping on, if I am not mistaken. The whole week was a blur.

Posted by: Twister on April 10, 2007 1:07 PM