The Long and Winding Road: As the world spurns…

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As the world spurns…

Something rather magnificent has happened recently, well in  my life anyway. As I watch TV nowadays I have the sublime pleasure of skipping through all the adverts in less than a minute. This power at my fingertips is one of the many benefits of our digital age viewing, our habits and preferences for the content we consume are being transformed.

There was a time , not too long ago, when watching a scheduled TV programme meant sitting through mountains of adverts every 7 minutes or so. The very fact that the network apparatchiks deemed our collective ability to concentrate on any one theme for more than 7 minutes too demanding is another story,  nevertheless they did . What they also did was effectively start to kill the goose that laid the golden egg because in ruining the flow and delivery of our chosen programming in order to sell us things we don’t want, they spurned us on to find a way around their gauche attempts to connect with us.

This network understanding of the viewer was borne out of demographic information which paid little or no attention to the people behind the numbers, instead it followed a blind adherence to the interpretation of numbers alone. Today a half hour programme may , if you are lucky, have 22 minutes of content wrapped up in 8 mins of advertising. Having 16 mins of advertising per hour, as a minimum has proved to be a sure fire way to alienate the audience.  I, for one, say a hearty ‘Thank you!’

I think, I can honestly say that I no longer watch ANY advertising on TV unless it suits me to. Almost all of my viewing is via the ‘on demand’ feature I have which allows me to view programming in any form  I want at my behest. The only time I see adverts now is when I watch my sports news channel and those adverts irritate me but you can’t have everything.

If I am not alone in my use of ‘on demand’ and use of recorded programming then surely we will see a fundamental shift to a new more effective and , dare I say, ‘genuine’ form of advertising.

The answer to our dilemma may well actually be in existence and incidentally have been in existence for many years. I refer , of course, to the much maligned and overlooked masterstroke that is the ‘Soap Opera’!

No , I have not taken leave of my senses, think about this a moment. The ‘soap opera’ was and is nothing more than content marketing; it educates, informs and entertains in small easy to digest portions…. and it does it consistently over long periods of time. The viewer chooses to watch them and becomes involved with the story, they ‘engage’ and develop strong emotional ties to the characters and storylines.

The very advertising vehicle designed to maximise the use of time between sections of a TV show is in fact the most sophisticated and powerful marketing concept to date. True, we have all dismissed the soap opera genre as a joke but reality is , it is and always has been, the pinnacle of content marketing.Our mistake was in thinking that it was just advertising when it was actually content marketing gold. Whilst the genre is famous for wobbly studio sets, poor acting and cheesy storylines, we should acknowledge the sheer genius of its conformation.

So powerful are these ‘soaps’ that they now form the bulk of daytime viewing across the world and are presented as the ‘main feature’ rather than the time filler they once were.

Last week in this space, I spoke of things never being new, of history repeating itself and here we are this week lauding the ‘soap opera’, who would have thought?

If your message is not powerful enough to generate emotional responses from your viewer, if it does not educate, inform and entertain…. then you are advertising not using content marketing.

If your message is not like a ‘soap opera’ perhaps it should be…… just a thought!

see you on the long and winding road………. Patrick


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