Today I saw what may be the strangest thing ever. People are watching less television. Of course they are - they've been DVR-ing and watching their shows online for a long time now, but with the writers' strike, there's nothing new for viewers to even make an effort to record. I haven't watched TV since the season finale of Heroes, and I probably won't watch it again until the start of LOST (If LOST starts). So, if people aren't watching television anymore, why are advertisers going crazy buying ads there?
According to the New York Post, ad prices on network TV are soaring. As the audience shrinks, advertisers have to buy more ad space to reach their target number of viewers, and this elevated demand for commercial time is driving up the cost. Advertisers paid on average 18% more in the fourth quarter for primetime spots, and the ratings they are paying for are down 14% from this time last year. What's even better: it's not looking like there's going to be any improvement next year. As I read this article half with amusement and half with utter horror, I just kept asking, "why?"
For god's sake, why are advertisers still buying television spots? The audience obviously isn't there, so why are they wasting their money? It's not like the audience has gone anywhere - they're still out there. They're just not watching television. I thought advertisers were supposed to be a little more creative than this. Hey guys, instead of buying up more and more ad space trying to reach an audience that has moved on, why don't you, I don't know, follow them?! I still listen to the radio whenever I'm driving, I still see billboards and bus-shelter posters wherever I go, and I go online for entertainment more than ever before. It just seems silly for advertisers to keep scrambling at this one medium when there are so many possibly more effective ones out there. I suppose it's okay, though - I'm sure the audience will come back when there are new programs for them to watch.