Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"You like me, you really like me" -Commercial Breaks

There was an interesting article in the NY Times titled "Like the Show? Maybe It Was the Commercials". The article highlights research that found that people tend to enjoy experiences more when the experience is interrupted. The same holds true for negative experiences- when they're interrupted, they level of dissatisfaction or annoyance increases (think: loud vacuum that keeps getting turned on and off over and over). The theory was put to the test with commercial breaks and the findings were consistent- viewers enjoyed the TV show more when it was interrupted by commercials. I think at the heart of all of this is simply that interruptions allow for more time to process our experiences thus lending to a heightened sense of awareness and as a result we have more intense emotional reactions.

There was one notion in the article that I disagree with, however, and that was that the content of the interruptions didn't impact the level of enjoyment the viewers experienced. I have to believe we've gotten ourselves into this whole Tivo/Hulu/Ifuckinghatecommercials mess entirely due to the shitty commercials that are forced upon viewers. Despite the fact that our acceptance/enjoyment of commercial interruptions is subconscious, I believe a better overall commercial experience in terms of content is absolutely something consumers would consciously respond positively to.

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