People of my generation, who were children watching television in the 1960s and 1970s, had to sit through commercials impatiently. Commercials were the price we paid to watch a show. Commercials interrupted our viewing pleasure; they were to be tolerated, endured, mocked, groaned at, avoided by leaving the room.
We can flip past the ads in magazines and newspapers, choosing how much time we spend on them, controlling the flow. Television and radio, however, lock us into their time frame; we are captured audiences.
How many of us, then, grew up with a visceral distaste for advertising because of this sense of being trapped in the linear structure of television commercial “breaks”?
My daughter and her generation, in contrast, are having a different experience. She never watches linear TV. She timeshifts programs on the Tivo, skipping the commercials. She watches programs on network websites; she switches to Facebook on a different browser tab when the (fewer) commercials run. When young, she watched home videos and PBS programs. She’s not used to interrupted viewing.
How many of her generation will develop a different attitude toward commercials? Mike Masnick argues that advertising is content, and that advertisers need to attract viewers by making interesting content. How will commercials evolve to attract my daughter’s attention now that they can no longer depend on having her captured attention through linear television?