Interruption Marketing Is Dead

The television program Lost has taught everyone involved in marketing or advertising a very important lesson as to what degree entertainment consumption habits have changed. Lost is a very popular TV program and yet the vast majority of the people who watch this program do not watch the show via tradition broadcast mediums. The traditional model of having a very popular TV show that draws large numbers of viewers who will enjoy the show and will also sit through constant commercial breaks has now become fractured – if not fatally broken. The people who enjoy Lost are not prepared to have their viewing pleasure interrupted by people trying to sell things that they do not necessarily want. The key here is the interruption – and the extraordinary lengths humans will go to avoid those interruptions.

TV Commercials Are Like Spam

Very few people enjoy TV commercials. People watch TV to be entertained, and the commercials are an interruption to that entertainment. Just as email is a form of communication, spam is an interruption to the flow of communication. As the entertainment habits change, platforms that continue the interruption marketing model will continue to suffer – and those that move away from this model will thrive. In an attempt to capitalize on the movement from the TV to internet entertainment consumption – many sites have introduced a ‘pre-roll’ commercial, where they show a 20 second commercial prior to the beginning of the video content the viewer wishes to consume. This is interruption marketing in a very bad disguise. If someone wants to watch a video of funny pet videos, they have not indicated that they want to watch a 20-second commercial for a fast food restaurant. The 20-second commercial is an interruption to the ebb and flow of internet use – and a clever marketer would look for ways to expose the viewer to the advertisers whilst not interrupting their enjoyment. If I watch 20 funny pet videos, and have to sit through the same 20-second commercials for the same fast food restaurant 20 times then one thing is absolutely certain to happen; If I become aware of another site that will let me watch funny pet videos without interrupting my entertainment with 20-second commercials – I will go there and never come back.

What is the Opposite of Interruption Marketing…?

Let us think of marketing as a conversation. With interruption marketing the advertiser is lecturing the consumer as to what they should do, and when they customer tries to talk they are continually interrupted and given their opinion by the marketer. The opposite of interruption marketing in engagement marketing – where the customer is engaged, treated like an equal, and certainly NOT lectured or sold to. The customer is free to do whatever they want, and are encouraged to make their own decisions. The key to engagement marketing is to be knowledgeable and to be ready. Here is an excellent example of engagement marketing; Burger King created a line of video games called the King Games in late 2006. The games sold for about $4 each (about the same price as one of their meals) and they were incredible popular. Buy creating something fun, insignificantly cheap, and engaging Burger King were able to make an excellent connection with a key and highly valuable demographic . The polar opposite of Burger King’s King Games is Yahoo. Yahoo offers something for free (news videos) which sounds like a winning formula straight off the bat. However – to watch the videos you must first watch a 30-second advertisement from ‘one of our sponsors’. This is a failure of imagination on Yahoo’s behalf. They have provided free content online (very good), but they have applied the same model which motivated the exodus away from TV viewing to their online model (very bad). People like to watch TV online because there are no commercials, by forcing viewers to watch commercials to enjoy your content you are interupting the natural flow of unsage and ultimately giving them a reason to go elsewhere. Here is the real kicker for Yahoo though – the average news segment on Yahoo is about 1 minute 30 seconds long. Every 2-minutes of Yahoo news video is therefore 25% advertisements – which if you do not like commercials interrupting your entertainment seems to be a bit too high.

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