I remember many years ago advertising on television was different. If you wanted to advertise on a television station you purchased an advertising slot and advertised your product. It was simple and effective and everybody knew what the ads were.
But those days are gone and now “infomational” advertising is all the rage. Whilst we still see plenty of standard television advertising the rise of “infomercials” has been dramatic.
You know the ones. A complete half-hour dedicated to the latest fitness equipment. A well seasoned presenter talking to a bunch of people who have used a particular piece of fitness equipment to reduce their weight by 50lbs and who have happened to get 6 packs abs along the way.
There are now entire programs, and television channels, dedicated to the infomercial.
The trend towards infomercials began in the US where companies promoted their products in long form television shows outside of peaktime hours, commonly from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Being long form programs it was essential that the program present information together with the promotional material. Therefore the term “infomercial” was coined, being a combination of the words “information” and “commercial”.
These programs are often made to resemble standard television programmes as closely as possible, and often tried to downplay the fact that a product is being sold to improve the response rate of the viewers.
Usually there is a more complicated commercial message and call to action in these programs than you would find in regular commercials, and they often seek to get viewers to phone a dedicated number to talk to someone at the company.
Why would anyone watch an infomercial?
Some people wonder why any viewers would sit through half an hour of advertising. However infomercials have proven to be extremely popular and very effective as advertising and estimates are that anywhere up to $150 billion of products are sold in the US every year through infomercials.
We’ve recently been interested to watch a few to see how modern infomercial technology is working. In the last few days we’ve watched infomercials about how to choose stone cookware, how to get 6 pack abs (a common favorite) and how to select the best knife sharpener (like these ones).
We still wonder how anyone could sit through a half-hour of television during which time, despite all efforts being made to suggest the contrary, they are clearly being advertised to. In the US now the FTC requires that any infomercial longer than 15 minutes must disclose that it is a paid advertisement, so it’s very difficult to maintain that the program is anything other than an ad.
But it seems that infomercials are here to stay
Despite our skepticism there’s no doubt, however, that infomercials are here to stay. They sell products effectively and TV stations love them. They are a new source of revenue and we have no doubt that there will be infomercials on your TV into the foreseeable future.
But it’s your choice whether you watch them or not.