Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Magazines come and magazines go. In the first 9 months of 2011, 110 new magazines began publishing while 127 closed up shop, according to this Oct. 11 press release from MediaFinder.com. (Both numbers are down from the same period last year, when 259 launched and 383 folded.)

But of all the new launches this year, the breakout title for me is Inspire, the magazine of al-Qaeda. It’s published in English out of Yemen and edited by a 24-year old Pakistani American from North Carolina, Samir Kahn.

The cover for the second issue of Inspire, Fall 2010

With catchy articles like “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom” and instructions for turning your pickup truck into a steel-bladed “mowing machine” for mowing down enemies, the magazine is sure to deliver a unique audience.

Good for Inspire. One of the only ways a magazine can succeed in the post-print era is by delivering eyeballs nobody else can reach. Find an under-served niche and exploit it. (Speaking of which, please don’t confuse Inspire with InSpire Magazine, the woman’s magazine published by, I kid you not,  Niche Publications LLC)

Does anybody know if Inspire sells ad space?

After all, there are plenty of companies that would want to reach terrorists and zealots. Fertilizer manufacturers, truck rental companies, used car dealers, explosive shoes, box cutter suppliers and backpack makers come to mind, but I’m sure there are others. (Quite a few of the magazine ad sales people I’ve known would sell their own mothers for the commission, so I can’t imagine they’d have a problem with this.)

I wonder what kind of added-value the magazine offers to its advertisers? Laminated copies of the ads with the words, “As seen in Inspire” slugged into the upper right corner? Free advertorials? Survey cards?

Maybe they let advertisers rent the subscriber list at a discount?

If that’s the case, can someone please explain to me how I can get my hands on that list? I can think of a Navy S.E.A.L. team that would love to hand deliver a special promotion to the readers.

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I was at SMX East Tuesday and attended a session on Facebook advertising. The experts on the panel were talking about how, in order to actually get useful results out of advertising on the world’s largest social network, they had to change their Facebook creative as often as 4-5 times a day to combat blindness, fatigue and annoyance.

Swapping out ads every few hours? Optimizing banner campaigns and paid search and websites on the fly? Managing brand reputations that can change in hours thanks to a viral video or a negative blog post?

When did advertising get so hard?

It used to be, you ran a TV spot on Must See TV and the whole world knew about your product.

It used to be, you rented a great mailing list, sent out a juicy catalog half the size of a phonebook, and watched the orders come rolling in over the phone or in the mail.

It used to be, you did your keyword research, put up a bunch of paid search ads in Google AdWords, and watched people come to your site and buy things.

It’s not like it used to be.

Advertising has gotten really tough. And it’s gotten tough because our target audiences stopped being targets and started being participants.

Now, you have to listen to them – but if you do, you can learn what you need to succeed.

Now you have to engage them – and when you do, they’ll reward you with the real version of the brand loyalty you thought you had before.

Now, you have to treat your customers like a Facebook Friend, a Twitter Follower, an engaged stakeholder – and if you don’t, they’ll find a company who does, but only after they tell everyone how shabbily you treated them. (5 years ago, if you said this to a client, they would have called you crazy and shown you the door.)

The bad news is that there are more channels, more touchpoints, and more tools than ever before, and they’re labor intensive, difficult to quantify, and constantly changing. (Just keeping up with the changes to Google is a full time job!)

The good news is that there are more channels, more touchpoints, and more tools than ever before at our disposal to change the way we relate to our customers.

So can someone please explain to me why, rather than change their methods to get the most advantage out of these newly engaged and empowered customers, so many advertisers are just trying to find a way to make the new mediums work like the old ones?

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I just saw “The Social Network” and I loved it. Aaron Sorkin proved once again that he is the best dialogue writer in Hollywood (followed closely by Quentin Tarantino and Diablo Cody, IMHO). His words, and director David Fincher’s skill, kept the movie flowing and riveting, never once sounding anything but utterly real and believable.

And Jesse Eisenberg made Mark Zuckerberg into an everyman for our generation.

In the first scene, Zuckerberg tells his girlfriend that there are more geniuses in China than there are people in the US. We begin to see Zuckerberg as an everyman: even though he’s a genius, and knows it, that doesn’t guarantee entry into the members-only clubs where the cool people hang out.

“The Social Network” is about us, all of us, trying to fit in, looking for a place to belong, and finding our voice: collectively and individually. It’s a messy process, and there will be sins of commission and omission along the way.

I heard a reviewer on whatever cable channel was on at the time saying that this movie isn’t just the movie of a decade, it’s the movie of the generation, and that got me thinking.

We live in a time that future generations will look back on as revolutionary. And it’s not revolutionary because men like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg built products and companies that changed everything: it’s revolutionary because society was ready to embrace the new world their creations helped birth.

That new world is the world of virtually simultaneous, planet-wide shared awareness, perception and discussion.

Think about it. How do you get your information now? How do you experience the world? And most importantly, how do you share it, and what’s the lag time between discovery and dissemination?

I used to be a newspaper junkie. Then a Google News Junkie. Now, I have a News list on Twitter that gets the latest updates from the WSJ, The NY Times, Huffington Post, CNN, Mashable, Techcrunch and more. (The WSJ alone has dozens of Twitter feeds.) Now I can finally scan the news quickly and easily and know what’s going on everywhere instantly.

A few days ago, the shooting at the University of Texas was first reported on Twitter by students on campus. And as the situation developed, the local police were sending out their “official updates” to the news networks via Twitter.

The implications for Marketing and Advertising are sweeping. Because in the new era, ideas don’t spread because you throw money into spreading them. An idea spreads now because the wired-together world likes it and tells itself about it. The internet is littered with the corpses of bad ideas drenched in the blood of wasted marketing dollars.

Yes, getting heard among the rising background noise is hard. And at its most basic level, if you don’t know how to use the tools of social media, or don’t have the time, then marketers and advertisers can help.

But make no mistake: the ultimate success or failure of an idea, a product or a service is now dependent upon the quality of the idea, the product or the service. If people like it, they tell others. If they don’t, they don’t. And the way people find out about things these days is through a connected, always-on social network that exists online and off, via text and email and word of mouth across mobile phones and smart phones and laptops and computers, via Facebook and Twitter and Google.

It didn’t used to be that way, and that is sad for the good ideas that died stillborn and unheard, for lack of money or wherewithal. But I say, good riddance to the old world, and welcome to the new.

And yet, there are still those who resist the tide and cling to the ways they’ve always known, who look at multiple channels and only see fragmentation, who look at millions of people talking about what’s important to them and only perceive self-indulgent and distracting noise.

Can someone please explain to me how anyone can look at this time as anything less than a revolution, as the dawn of an era where a world of billions of individuals finally came together to know itself as a whole community greater than the sum of its parts?

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I can’t remember the last time I got a personal letter. Even my birthday and anniversary cards are likely to come via email these days. But my daughter got a postcard yesterday from her soon-to-be First Grade teacher telling her how excited she was to meet her when school starts in a few days. Not only was it totally unexpected, but the look on my daughter’s face has already sent the teacher’s Brand Perception through the roof in our family.

My daughter is not alone in responding favorably to Direct Mail. According to the August, 2010 Consumer Channel Preference Study by Epsilon Targeting, 18-34 year-olds overwhelmingly prefer to receive information via postal mail compared to any other medium across a wide variety of categories, with one exception (Travel). (You can download the full study here. And thanks to the TM Tipline newsletter for tipping me off to the new study.)

As you can see from the following sample of products and services, the preference for direct mail over email is staggering. In no case is it less than 2 to 1, and in one case, direct mail beats email by nearly 6 to 1.

Product/Service Mail Email
Sensitive Health 43% 9%
Prescription 41% 11%
General Health 37% 11%
Personal Care 37% 10%
Food Product 36% 11%
Cleaning Product 34% 9%
Financial Services 40% 7%
Insurance 38% 8%
Travel 28% 13%

There’s more in the survey. For instance, when it comes to household products, Newspaper Inserts are in second place, preferred 2 to 3 times more than email. For health related products, information from friends, family and doctors is more desirable than email, although still not as desirable as direct mail. (Maybe that’s because direct mail can be more private and less confrontational than asking your best friend, lover or doctor about a medical need?)

The survey also assessed trust, and found, as expected, that for health care, medical professionals are most trusted. For everything else, friends and family are at the top. The next most trusted source is newspapers, followed by company websites. Social Media like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are in the basement at 7-8%.

Source Trust
Doctor/Nurse 80%
Friends or Family 57%
Newspaper 26%
Company Websites 22%
Television 20%
Direct Mail Brochures or Flyers 18%
Radio 16%
Email 12%
Other Online Sites 11%
Cell Phone 9%
Blogs 8%
Facebook 8%
Online Forums 8%
YouTube 7%
Twitter 7%
Other Social Media 7%

So what are we to derive from this survey? Well, aside from the premise that more people prefer and trust dead tree communications (direct mail, newspapers) over electronic ones, I think the big lesson here is that you can’t put all of your communications in one basket. At its best, direct mail only reached a 43% preference. That means that 57% of potential customers want to be communicated with through a different medium.

As the Director of Integrated Marketing at Tanen Directed Advertising, a channel-neutral direct marketing agency, this is good news to me. It supports what I’ve always believed: combined arms tactics beat single tactic strategies every time.

It also means you can never stop testing. What works today may not work tomorrow. Just a few years ago, email was outperforming direct mail. Adults 18-34 may prefer direct mail now, but what will that cohort prefer when it’s made up of today’s tweens and teens? Will people who’ve never even read a newspaper trust one?

Media channels may rise and fall in popularity and effectiveness, but I think it’s safe to say that in the rapidly changing world of advertising, there are no silver bullets, no perfect answers. A multi-channel strategy gives you the best chance of success. More importantly, communications across each channel often reinforce each other, creating synergies you can’t get with a single communication.

Even some of the most successful “social media” campaigns in recent memory have been multi-channel. As Scott Monty, Ford’s head of social media has said,  “If your customers are there, you need to be there too… You need to listen… see how they behave and act similarly.” He was talking about social media, but I say his insight applies to all forms of marketing and advertising.

People live multi-channel lives. They want some information one way, and other information a different way, sometimes at the same time. So can someone please explain to me why there are still some advertisers who operate with a one-channel-fits-all mindset?

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Have you ever seen a monkey riding a dog herding sheep?

I have.

I was at the Angola Prison Rodeo in Angola, Louisiana, helping my friend Marrus celebrate her 40th Birthday.

What’s the Angola Prison Rodeo, you may ask? (Unless you’ve seen Stir Crazy, of course.)

Well, it’s a rodeo, only the cowboys are prisoners and Angola is a maximum-security penitentiary and so they go at it like they’ve got nothing left to lose. And maybe they don’t, given that Angola’s nickname used to be “The Bloodiest Prison in the World.” Actually, they’re competing for Commissary money, which I was told translates to better food and maybe cigarettes, so, well, you get the picture.

The Angola Prison Rodeo is the longest running Prison Rodeo in the country. One of the crowd’s favorite events is called Convict Poker. 4 prisoners sit around a table, they let loose a bull, and the last one sitting wins. First time they did that, the bull came in directly behind one of the prisoners, and hit so hard all 4 prisoners and the table went airborne.

And yet, Convict Poker was not the most amazing event I witnessed that day. Nor was Wild Cow Milking, Buddy Pick-Up or Guts & Glory.

Because, you see, I saw 3 Capuchin monkeys riding on 3 Border Collies herding a bunch of sheep. And pretty much simultaneously each and every one of The Marrus Pranksters turned to each other and said, “Now I’ve seen everything.”

From our nosebleed seats it was hard to tell if the monkeys were strapped on, drugged or the best darned Border Collie-ridin’ monkeys this side of the Pecos. But I developed a strong opinion when one of them kind of slipped and was sideways to the dog. His little hands were flailing trying to fend off the ground against which the Border Collie seemed determined to bounce him. The trainer came out and righted the monkey, so I’m betting definitely strapped and quite possibly drugged.

We left Angola prison, safely aboard The Hoosegow Express, and took the hours long ride back to New Orleans. The ride was made more enjoyable by mixed drinks and incredible conversation. And every once in a while, someone would blurt out “Holy shit! I just saw monkeys riding dogs herding sheep.” or something to that effect, and then go back to their conversation.

I pulled out my souvenir program to read about it and found, much to my surprise, not a single mention of monkeys riding dogs herding sheep. No pictures. Not even listed on the program. And it’s not the first time they’ve had monkeys riding dogs herding sheep at the Angola Prison Rodeo, according to one of The Marrus Pranksters who’d been there before and accidentally “forgot” to tell us about the spectacle in advance.

In fact, the website doesn’t mention it either. Or the posters. Or the videos. Or the press release. Or the Advertising Opportunity page on the website.  Of course they sell advertising. The rodeo attracts over 70,000 people annually, who spend their money on inmate-created crafts and feast on delicacies like Fried Coca Cola and Alligator Po’ Boys.

And yet, what do you think the first thing everyone who went to that rodeo tells their friends about? What do they tweet and blog and Facebook about?

Monkeys riding dogs herding sheep.

What if it were your business? What if you had something utterly remarkable, a true Seth Godin-worthy Purple Cow? Would you never mention it in any of your marketing materials? Never once discuss it in a press release?

I hear some of you whispering about the practice of not advertising certain off-menu secret items at places like In ‘n Out Burger, and maybe you’ve got a point. Sometimes not talking about something is cooler than talking about it. But I don’t think that’s the case here. And besides, as compelling as Gummy Bear Smoothies at Jamba Juice or Mochi topping at Pinkberry may be, they’re not as remarkable as what we all saw at Angola Prison that day.

So can someone please explain to me why in blazes the Angola Prison Rodeo doesn’t tell people that if they just come on by they’ll get to see monkeys riding dogs herding sheep?

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“Just the facts, M’am.”

Pepsi, who has advertised in every Super Bowl for 23 years, is shifting its entire Super Bowl budget into social media via its charitable crowdsourcing community called The Pepsi Refresh Project.

According to a UMass Dartmouth Study released this month, 80% of the Inc 500 use social networking as a marketing tool. And 89% of them say it was successful, “using hits, comments, leads or sales as primary indicators of success.”

The Mobile Internet Report by Morgan Stanley, released in December, says,

“Regarding the pace of change, we believe more users will likely connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within five years.”

Okay, that wasn’t a fact. That was a prediction. But it’s a conviction backed up by a 424 page research report.

But this is: as of today, the Red Cross had raised $22 million for Haiti relief thru text donations alone. And I don’t know about you, but I first found out about the effort on Twitter.

I could keep listing facts that prove the value of social media, but I’m lazy. Instead, I’m going to post this great video, Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman, that I found on Josef Katz’s Marketing Maestro blog that addresses the ROI of social media.

Pepsi. Ford. Gary Vinochuk. Zappos. Lenovo. Burger King. Blend Tec. Dell. Intuit. Volkswagen. Barak Obama. The Red Cross.

They all get it.

Can someone please explain to me why there are still people who don’t?

As the new decade dawned, the war between content creators and distribution channels was heating up on a new front:  Television.

While Fox loudly beat its chest and threatened to pull its programming off Time Warner Cable, at 12:01 am Jan. 1st, without fanfare or warning shot, Scripps Network actually did pull the Food Network and HGTV off of Cablevision.

But unlike what happens when a news organization pulls content from a news aggregator like Google News and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles waiting to take its place, when a cable network like Scripps pulls its content from TV, there’s just an empty hole where yummy goodness used to be.

As in any good conflict, there are two sides. Cablevision accuses Scripps of “effectively holding their own viewers hostage in order to pursue a more than 200 percent fee increase…” And Scripps says the fault lies with Cablevision, and that “every other cable and satellite provider in the country has willingly and professionally renegotiated a fair market rate…” (You can read the full text of the statements from both Scripps and  Cablevision here on paidContent.org, which provides global coverage on the economics of digital content.)

In the case of Food Network and Cablevision, the dispute comes down to less than the cost of a candy bar.

Currently, Cablevision pays Scripps about 8 cents per household to run Food Network. They also pay 13 cents for HGTV according to this very informative article in Broadcasting & Cable about the Scripps Cablevision dispute yesterday.

Food Network, a Top 10 cable network, has seen ratings increase 21% in December among the 18-49 year old demographic, and HGTV increased 13% over the same period. Ratings increases like this can be worth millions in extra ad revenues.

In an attempt to reflect the increased value of their programming, Scripps is asking for an “astronomical” increase of over 200%, or about fifty cents. (Cablevision charges $55.95 for basic cable, which includes Food Network, so you can decide for yourself whether Food Network is worth more than 8 cents a month… or even $0.32.)

Apparently, according to Scripps, Cablevision made a much lower offer that was “take-it-or-leave-it, and would still make Food Network… one of the lowest paid channels on its (Cablevision’s) lineup.”

Of course, as these two giant superpowers fight it out, there’s bound to be collateral damage.

First of all, there are the advertisers who are losing coverage. Don’t cry too much for them, though, because  audiences and ratings are guaranteed by contract, or backed up by make goods. Although if you had a time sensitive offer, let’s say a new product launch in the gourmet food category or home appliance category at the start of the year, a future make-good may not be enough to overcome lost opportunity.

No, as is frequently the case with war, it is the cost in civilian casualties that hurts the most. The real victims of this conflict are the 3 million Cablevision homes in the NY tri-state area: innocent men, women and children who are being deprived of Rachel Ray and Alton Brown.

How can we live without knowing who was victorious in the Iron Chef Super Chef Battle featuring special guest Michelle Obama: Mario Battali and Emeril Lagassi or Bobby Flay and White House Chef Cummerford? Did Paula Dean invent some new way to combine butter, sour cream, mayonnaise and bacon and not die of an instant coronary? What cool, out-of-the-way soon-to-be-overwhelmingly popular joint did Guy Fieri find on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?

But more importantly, can someone please explain to me how I can make sense of this dispute for my 5-year old daughter, who knows nothing of Gross Rating Points and syndication revenue, when all she wants to do is see Chef Duff and his merry cakesters bake a cake shaped like a kitty cat on Ace of Cakes?

Two seemingly unrelated news items about the US Post Office and Google caught my attention today.

The first was an article in DM News that said that the US Post Office is intending to penalize mailers who don’t

“meet US Postal Service standards for updating mailing lists, according to Jeff Platt, director of solutions marketing for US mailing at Pitney. Those updates must be applied 95 days before the mailing. As of January 4, 2010, mailers that do not do so will be subject to additional postage of 7 cents per assessed piece.”

Previously, the USPS gave discounts to people who made their mail more efficient. Now they’re getting out the big stick and making people pay for their inefficiency rather than rewarding their efficiency.

And the second was the news that Google is changing their policy about free news content and their “First Click Free” policy. That policy says that if you find content on Google News and click on it, say, an article from the Wall St. Journal, you get to read that article for free. Click on the next article on the site and the Journal lets you know that any additional articles is only available for subscribers, and they’re happy to let you subscribe.

Google is amending their policy to allow publishers who charge for their content to “limit the number of accesses under the First Click Free policy to five free accesses per user each day.”

According to Google, “While we’re happy to see that a number of publishers are already using First Click Free, we’ve found that some who might try it are worried about people abusing the spirit of First Click Free to access almost all of their content.”

I say bravo USPS and Google.

Let’s start with the Post Office. When it comes to the USPS, like most other direct mailers I know I’ve railed against the ever-increasing fees and the amazingly complex discount and fee structure for business mailers. (If you want to wade through the 44 page PDF of the Jan 4, 2010 rates, here it is.)

As the director of integrated marketing at a channel-neutral direct marketing agency, I’m an equal opportunity employer of whatever works: direct mail, email, FedEx, twitter, text, search… you get the point. But if the post office went away, my job would get infinitely tougher.

This time, though, when the USPS institutes a fee that penalizes mailers who don’t engage in smart practices in order to help defray costs and stay afloat, I’m all for it.

Running your mailing list against NCOA won’t catch every piece of undeliverable mail, but it does catch many of them. It saves the mailer the cost of wasted printing and postage, and turns missed opportunity into the chance of a sale. Undeliverable mail that could be avoided is a terrible waste that increases the cost of mail by adding extra work for the mail carrier and the post office, all to no good end.

Now let’s talk about Google and free news. Don’t get me wrong… I get most of my news from Google, for free. I love the WSJ, and I’ll miss getting their content.

But free sample content from the WSJ, or any other publisher for that matter, has never enticed me to subscribe to that publisher, if there were a fee attached. If I encounter a fee, I just move on to the next one for free.

I admit it. I’m a freeloader. And I’ve pretty sure I’ve read more than 5 articles from the Journal over the course of a day by accessing them via Google News.

The discussion about the death of journalism has morphed into a discussion about what news organizations are doing to stay alive, and in some cases, they’re exploring pulling back their free content into models that provide better value for their value. They’re fighting for their survival, and like the USPS, my world will be worse off without them.

There are many models that can be applied to online news that don’t involve the reader paying for their content. I proposed a few here in my blog back in June. From crowdfunding (read this great piece in the Columbia Journalism  Review about the NY Times’ first crowdfunded article) to advertising-supported mega blog news sites like the Huffington Post, most  “alternatives” to traditional news still involve some form of cost defrayal.

In this ever changing world in which we live, one thing is becoming fairly obvious:  if we don’t start paying for what we use, we’re going to lose it.

We’re in the midst of one of the most challenging business cycles of our lives. We’ve seen business after business shut their doors forever. Costs are rising, credit is harder to find, competition is global and the rate of change threatens to swamp old business models that can’t evolve.

And yet there are people who complain about UPS and USPS raising their prices to reflect increased costs, or , god-forbid, a news organization like the Wall St. Journal wanting to get compensated for reporting the news.

Can someone please explain to me how you can be expected to run a business without getting fairly paid for your products or your services?

While I wait for your answer, I’m going to go out and buy a copy of the Journal. Heck, I may even decide to pay for a subscription so I can read it online — the way it should be read.

I took a cab this morning on my way from Grand Central to the Javits Center for AdTech NY. If you haven’t taken a cab in NYC recently, you may not know that most of them now have TV screens mounted in the center of the back of the front seat. It’s part of a unit that allows you to pay for your ride by credit card.

As a marketer, I love the idea of this media channel. You’ve got a captive audience with nothing better to do than watch the screen. What better place to advertise local restaurants, Broadway shows, clubs, stores and events?

Only that’s not what was on the screen. Instead I saw a few minimalist news items sandwiched in between commercials that had nothing to do with my location, my situation or even NYC at all.

I turned the programming off, to be greeted by a static NBC screen that promised that by watching this I would in fact find out what was going on in the city I was in.

I asked the cabbie if it was always like this. With an exasperated tone in his voice he told me what it’s like to listen to this same inane commercial ridden loop of content all day long. Even when one passenger turned it off, it turned itself on again every time the meter was started for the next passenger. Sometimes there were commercials for Saturday Night Live, but that’s as good as it got.

I asked the cab driver if at least he got a share of the revenue, to which he responded that it was worse than that:  he had to pay for it, 5% on all his credit card fares. He figured it cost him over $1000 a year.

When I got to the Javits Center I left the cabbie a good tip, in cash, and went inside to a day filled with presentations by some of the most forward thinking marketers on the planet. There was even one about place-based ad networks, a category that includes the screen in the back of my cab.

As I listened to case studies of personalized advertising delivered on high tech devices at the perfect moment to make a meaningful connection with the recipient and discussions about using semantic filters and advanced behavioral modeling to provide ever better targeting, my mind kept wandering to the backseat of that cab.

Our industry is in the midst of tremendous change: new technologies, new methodologies, new media channels, and new ways of listening to and engaging with our customers.

But can someone please explain to me what good all that technology is if we don’t have the skill to use it appropriately?

 

 

Has this ever happened to you?

Your commercial for Romano’s Macaroni Grill Dinner Kits is running on a cable tv network like Food Network. Everything is going well, happy people cooking food at home that’s every bit as good as it would be at the restaurant.

“Just add your chicken and cook for 20 minutes. Romano’s Macaroni Grill Dinner Kits… the restaurant favorites that…”

and then, suddenly,

“How rough are your dry cracked feet? Now there’s Heeltastic”… as a woman takes a sandblaster to her bare feet.

Mmmm…that’s tasty.

You’ve just joined the ranks of thousands of advertisers who suffer from Commercialus Interruptus, a tragic, embarrassing affliction that is, sad to say, occurring with increasing frequency among anyone who advertises on cable television.

Why does it happen? More importantly, why does it seem to be spreading? I first noticed it on the Food Network, but now I’ve seen it on Comedy Central, TNT, TBS, USA, CNN and many other stations too traumatized to allow themselves to be mentioned in public.

Uninformed theories abound, some of them no better than old wives tales. Some say the advertiser couldn’t afford the full slot and is willing to settle for less. Some say it’s because the advertiser didn’t pay the bill. I’ve even seen someone post that they think it happens when the person running the commercials at the station is in training and screws it up.

Commercialus Interruptus can happen to anyone, no matter how famous or successul. Whether you’re Billy Mays or Bob the Enzyte Guy, you too can have your pitch prematurely pre-empted by a puzzling 2-second snippet of a mop in bed banging against a radio alarm clock.

The most promising theory I’ve found suggests that the problem arises from scheduling or programming conflicts between commercials that are running nationally at the same time as ones that are just running in local markets.

But there have always been national stations and local affiliates, and there have always been national media buys and local. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember this happening as frequently even a few years ago as it does now. (I refuse to believe it has anything to do with getting older.)

I know what you’re thinking: this could never happen to your commercials. Your commercials run their full 30 seconds and never, ever end prematurely.

But how can you really know? Do you get full playbacks of every single commercial you run? Do you believe the networks would tell you the truth knowing that it would hurt your feelings and, perhaps, damage your self-confidence?

I thought so.

There must be an answer out there. We do not have to simply roll over and allow ourselves to be stigmatized. We do not have to be victims.

So can someone please explain to me what really causes Commercialus Interruptus , and more importantly, what we can do to stop it?