How spam is teaching us about advertising

I’ve decided that spam is playing a significant role in the dismantling of the mass marketing paradigm. You’re free to disagree, of course, but I think that the unintended consequence of spam is that it teaches about hype and to pay attention to advertising claims. How many of you aren’t more skeptical of all ad claims (and all media), because spam has taught you that there’s an element of spam in every unwanted (commercial) message?

Aren’t you automatically more suspicious of anybody’s “selling?”

Now think about the millions of young people who’ve been similarly taught, and you’ll see what I mean.

I’ve come to this conclusion after reading that my “penis will make more shadow than a tree.” I’m reminded of the TV ads for the old grapefruit diet pills. “They’re so darned easy, they’ve GOT to work!” Yeah, right.

Speaking of truth-in-advertising, have you heard about NBC’s game with the ratings for “Heroes?” Nielsen provides special provisions for syndicated programming that allows them to use multiple dayparts over a week to determine ratings. This is because syndicated shows don’t all run on the same day or in the same daypart. Well, NBC (Who else?) has creatively adapted the provision for “Heroes,” because they ran the opening week’s episode on Monday AND Saturday nights. The Nielsen number they’re selling combines both viewings. Nice.

The problem for advertisers is they really have no idea how the show actually performed in its original time period, so some are up-in-arms.

There will be more of this, I predict, as the status quo continues to try and hide the realities of disruptive innovations.

Now where are my penis pills?


  1. Terry, I think something else is afoot with the Heroes metrics.

    At first glance, this is a great way to get audiences to sample a show that got a lot of buzz last year, but was serialized in nature. Too many people got burned by ‘24’ and other shows that became impossible to follow. ABC used the same technique last year and this year, re-running new shows a few days later to provide “second chance” hooks.

    Now — that’s the surface explanation.

    What NBC might be gleaning from this experiment is just how many people WOULD time-shift a show if they had the technology. If you air the same episode twice in a week, there is a small percentage of households that would watch both, but for the most part not. Now, those of us with DVR and TiVO are already in the habit of watching when WE want. By showing Heroes twice, NBC gets to figure out how many more people would be interested in the program if it were outside of the single Monday night box. If the number for Saturday is very low, it means most of the interested fan base is nailing the initial viewing on the edge of their seats. If the Saturday ratings are significant and sustain over time, then there is a fairly decent case to be made that NBC ought to consider alternate distribution models. After all, if you don’t have a DVR, the only way you can time-shift a show is to download it.

    Isn’t Joost out of beta now…?

    Happy Friday.

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