Coming Soon: A Horror Show for TV Ads
TiVo's digital recorders indicate that viewers don't necessarily watch the ads, even on hit shows. Agencies and networks are still in denial. "I know that 50% of my advertising is wasted. I just don't know which half," retail guru John Wanamaker famously quipped in 1886. Things haven't improved much since then. Magazines and newspapers still sell ads based on circulation, and TV networks have sold ads based on viewer ratings for the last 50 years, even though no one knows whether anyone actually watches commercials. More than a century after Wanamaker's lament, advertising remains as much an art as a science.