On avoiding advertising (on TV)

© Tate, London

I like that people try to avoid watching ads while they watch TV, but it’s probably not effective, and definitely not sustainable.

On effectiveness

For years TV stations have increased the volume during ad breaks so you still hear them when you leave the room to make a cup of tea. Now they face the challenge of people recording TV with the option to fast-forward through the ads at a later date. You’d think this would worry advertisers and in turn the broadcasters, but this quote from Sky shows the consideration they have already given this:

“When people are fast forwarding, they are actually paying closer attention because they want to ensure they do not miss the resumption of the TV show.”

Which explains their calmness pretty clearly. I should note that I’ve copied that quote from the Daily Mail (http://bit.ly/fuusIk), and yes, I appreciate the irony of using ad funded mostly despicable media to back up my case against ad funded media. Move on…

Methods for avoiding watching ads are only a temporary fix. Advertisers will adapt, as they are incentivised to do so by the very business model that drives them.

And if the ads stop driving revenue, the broadcasters will intervene, because it’s in their interest too. TV-on-demand suppliers are already pretty skilled at forcing you to watch an ad before you see the content, and doing the same during a Sky+ fast-forward is within feasible technical boundaries already.

But if you still think you can watch TV and avoid advertising (including the times when you think you’re not watching), then read on.

On sustainability

If the content you want to watch is funded by advertising, then it requires enough people to buy the advertised products to sustain the advertising revenue to in turn sustain the content. If no one watches the ads, no one can watch the content.

If you think it’s OK to skip the ads yourself on the grounds that someone less aware of the impact of advertising will buy the product and fund the content on your behalf, that says something about your compassion for our fellow human beings.

In summary

You have two choices about how you pay for your entertainment:

  1. Indirectly, by buying whatever is shown in the ads
  2. Directly, by paying for the content

I prefer to invest in the arts, directly.