Watching Television In The Age Of Advertising & Fake News

Child watching television, ads, advert, advertising, TV, marketing, People, especially young people, are watching less and less broadcast television despite the ever increasing number of channels available on Freeview, Freesat and subscription charging satellite broadcasters such as Sky.

At first glance it’s easy to see why. Despite the vast number of channels the variety and content of what’s available to watch is uninspiring. If you don’t like reality TV in the form of Big Brother, Love Island, Made In Chelsea, Geordy Shore or The Only Way is Essex your viewing choices are actually rather limited. Your options for avoidance become narrower when the ‘personalities’ these shows throw up become loose in the wold, appearing on other shows. You’ll see them appearing on panel shows, news quizzes, even offering their considered opinions on daytime chat and current affairs programming, and, in an arch example of media eating itself, celebrity iterations of other reality television shows.

If you are in the position that you want to watch something on broadcast TV you reach the second obstacle to enjoying a television show: the adverts. There has to be a saturation point where advertising is so frequent that viewers simply won’t watch any more and on most of the commercial stations that point seems to have been reached.

With inferior quality programming and high frequency commercial breaks stations run the risk of completely losing the attention of the viewer. It’s simply too easy to start channel surfing as soon as the adverts come on and not care at all that you never make it back to see what happens next. This is especially true of American Shockumentaries which end every segment with a teaser for the next and start each one with a reminder of what happened previously. Add in 5 minutes of commercials every 12 minutes and 20 minutes actual content can be strung out to last an hour, ultimately with very little payoff. Like junk food junk television offers flavour but leaves you hungry as soon as it’s over.

TV Advertising To Suit What The Consumer Wants

Sky’s new AdSmart learning understands what advertising you’re receiving, and then tailors commercials to suit what you might be interested in so you can see more things that you might like. Of course this is prone to errors. For example, if you subscribe to Sky Atlantic it won’t show you any ads for that service since you already have it. However, if you absolutely detest sports you’ll theoretically receive MORE ads for sports subscriptions since it’s not something you already own. Equally, if you have a children’s channel subscription package you’ll receive more ads for products such as family cars and child friendly holidays among your shows because it’s identified a potential for needs and wants.

Adsmart also uses your postcode in order to target you not only for your lifestyle, but your location too. So prepare to see more ads for shops you’re already familiar with in your home town. This may on one hand seem like preaching to the choir, on the other there is the potential to make you aware of goods or services on your doorstep that you didn’t previously know about. This is the problem with niche targeting with a broad-brush: it’s neither accurately targeted nor is it wide enough in its appeal to draw in consumers who fall outside of catchment.

Watching Television Through Alternative Channels

People under 35 are now getting more of their viewing through the internet, be that Youtube. Netflix, or any of the other filesharing and hosting sites. Many of which will also target advertising at you, but with a difference. If an ad is poorly targeted or irrelevant you can give feedback so you don’t have to see it again. If you’ve seen the ad too often, bought the product already, you’re not interested or you find the content offensive you have the option to send this data back. You’ll receive adverts which tell you about more things you might be interested in, business doesn’t waste time and money putting ads in front of you which are irrelevant and, if after all that you’re still not interested, you always have the ad blocking software option.

Ad blockers are indispensable if you really dislike advertising. They really help as part of your online security too as they block pop-ups and other utilities which are often used to implant trojan horse software, malware and other viruses onto your computer. If you’ve adopted Smart Home Automation you’ll know how important it is to keep such programmes off of your computers and Smart devices. Once corrupted your home network can be more easily hacked, giving virtual intruders access to sensitive data, and even real intruders access to your home should they get access to your access control system, CCTV or burglar alarms. So, using adblocking software in conjunction with a robust antivirus regime, and diligent online security is a must to keep your home, property, and finances safe.

Blocking People Who Don’t Want Advertising Isn’t The Answer

Several websites, particularly news sites and magazines don’t allow access to users accessing using browsers which have ad blocking apps. You can whitelist them permanently, for each visit, or buy a subscription.
When Lord Reith became Director General of the BBC back in the early 20th century he wanted to produce material that would “educate and entertain” and while the BBC’s output still does that, for the Millennials who have lived their entire lives with digital platforms growing up along side them, this content isn’t good enough any longer. People in their 40s are probably the last generation who had less than 10 channels to watch growing up and felt comfortable going outside until sunset if there was nothing worth watching on TV. We no longer let our kids play out unsupervised for hours on end, TV and radio has to contend with social media, Spotify, Youtube, Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Grand Theft Auto, Twilight, World of Warcraft, the list is virtually endless. And with all that competition for our attention, it’s barely any surprise that people are eschewing television for more relevant platforms which let them interact with their friends and media which is distributed in a way which makes it accessible when and where they want to consume it, not when it is scheduled by the broadcaster.

People who are still watching TV as it is broadcast appear to be Baby Boomers, those who grew up with a strict schedule spread across two or three channels alongside the radio. They appear to be particularly interested in consuming their news and current affairs programming through TV. Which is understandable as there are regulations which stipulate fair, unbiased, honest reporting on TV. So while it’s impossible to eradicate the biases and subjective opinions of individual journalist completely, their stories are edited and checked before dissemination. With many online news sources, especially after Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and ‘Fake News’ controversies it becomes harder to trust stories which appear to be from authoritative, genuine news agencies.
All this foreshadows a paradigm shift in broadcast television and media. If TV stations need advertising, but there are fewer people consuming it, and implementing strategies to avoid adverts then they need to invent a new way to make revenue and advertising companies need to think of new ways to get their innovative new products before our eyes.

Pay To Go Ad Free Or Get Paid To Watch Ads

The first problem is easy, the BBC have used the model since their inception: pay a fee and never be bothered with advertising again. In the digital age this would be much easier to deliver. If your account runs empty you won’t be cut off, rather the advertising will start again.

The second is rather more intractable. Several attempts have been made to reward people for watching adverts, the viewer receives marketing accurately targeted toward their interests so conversion and sales are far superior to traditional rediffusion, ad agencies still get to make outstanding media which has real impact and the channels still get paid for hosting the marketing, accruing revenue just like normal. However, despite the attempts to make it worthwhile for people to actually watch advertising, they have generally not found favour in the marketplace.

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