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4th April 2017

There seems to be an ever-increasing number of ads appearing while my 8 and 3-year old boys are watching their beloved cartoons. The spots in questions are for many brands and products with a slightly more grown up target audience. The ads aren’t selling toys, junior football kits or educational apps and the last time I checked, the boys’ joint disposable income would not be of any particular interest to any Marketing department and their basket of choice will change exponentially from now until they get their first pay cheque. The content that I’ve been privy to, whilst occasionally checking (see bad parenting) what the boys are watching, is not suitable content for their age group, and more importantly the youngest of the two has no idea how to skip them. So these spots actually get viewed, not 25%, not 50%, but all the way through. Looks great for the viewing stats but it’s not good business.

Looks great for the viewing stats but it’s not good business.

This content has zero effect on actual footfall, product purchase or brand consideration. So, as an advertiser, I appreciate this strategy may be born from a rather aggressive policy to decrease the annoyingly high skip rate, but we all need to be very aware that as a result, any message consumption numbers we receive and pass onto our clients will definitely be a tad skewed, if not complete bollocks. Again.

The ethical argument is very real and it concerns me. We have a watershed on TV, we have oversight and approval on content appropriateness, so how can we let this happen so readily on digital screens where our children spend more and more time? In my opinion, it also smacks of bad TV media buying a decade or so ago? Sure, the fact that your media agency may have negotiated an additional free 100 spots on the back of your ‘gigantic’ ad spend wouldn’t bother you, but the fact that all of those spots appeared on an adult channel in Nigeria at three in the morning with a viewership of two should. It hasn’t benefited the brand, in fact it may have damaged it.

It also smacks of bad TV media buying

Interestingly, isn’t the concept of ad placement within programming a homage to the great nemesis of the new content world, namely TV advertising? As everyone continues to blurt on about the death of TV, the digital screen seems to tumble towards an amended facsimile of it, rather than a proper new arena for branded message consumption.

Anyway my rant as a communications chap over, I now return to being a parent. We really need to be aware about which messages are being forced upon our toddlers and kids during an innocent attempt to watch Bob the Builder. Getting 2 million 4 years olds to watch ads for a condom, Tinder or a new energy drink in their entirety may well benefit Google’s ability to market YouTube as a viable channel, but literally offers the brand zero return on any investment and definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouths of the people with the actual disposable income.

Just a thought.


Phil Lynagh
Director SHA.

“The opinions in this article are that of the author alone and in no way, reflect the opinions or viewpoint of the agency. Unless of course we happen to agree with those opinions completely, in which case they might, but otherwise they don’t”
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