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Sunday, February 04, 2007

What? They play football?

Ok, show of hands, how many people out there watch the Superbowl for the commercials? Now, think of this, how many Superbowl ads actually look like ads? At least like things we traditionally think of ads? How many of you have received a mepeg in your e-mail of a funny advertisement, or downloaded one from YouTube?

In the last century as we developed mass media— movies, radio and television— we (and when I say we, I mean the regulatory agencies of the US government) drew a line in the sand and said that this side was advertising, and this side was entertainment. And for about sixty years the model worked . However, since the adoption of Tivo, DVDs, and streaming media, that model doesn’t work so well.

So advertisements are becoming more like entertainment, and entertainment is becoming more like ads. In another ten years, what’s left of broadcast TV will rely on product placement, naming rights, and DVD sales to finance itself— and you may be twenty minutes into an extended ad buy before you realize they’re trying to sell you something.