There has never been any profession that has received so much criticism than advertising. There is generally, feelings and attitudes among the average consumers who always accuse advertising of making exaggerated claims about products. The assumption is that since advertising has the duty to portray a given product in the most favourable light, it can only do so by speaking in superlative terms. Using the survey research design and the questionnaire as instrument of data collection, this work investigated the perception of viewers of Super Story television drama on the obtrusiveness of advertisements that are a major feature of the programme. The data generated were presented in tables using simple percentage. The study reached the conclusion that adverts in the programme be moderated to accommodate the interest of the audience.
Television advertising has traditionally been purchased on the basis of programme audience measures. These metrics are used both to select the programmes in which to advertise and to negotiate the rates for huge sums of money in advertising spending. While measures of the programme audience are appropriate for marketers considering branded entertainment (i.e., product placement), programme ratings have shortcomings in advertising planning. Chief among them is the discrepancy between measures of the audience with the opportunity to see the programme and measures of the audience with the opportunity to see the programme’s commercial breaks.
Advertisers are not primarily concerned with programme audiences but rather with the audience that particular commercials may reach. According to Poltrack (2006), “the relationship between program audiences and commercial audiences was found to be very stable over time and by programme.” If this is the case, established programme audience measures may be effective proxies for the potential commercial audience. As such, media planners and their clients can simply use these metrics to choose programmes in which to place commercials. However, the appropriateness of programme audience measures for such decisions is more tenuous if the relationship between viewers’ opportunities to see programmes and their opportunities to see commercial breaks varies significantly across programmes or within a given episode. Steinberg and Hampp (2007) also report that programme audiences may be approximately 5%–10% higher than potential commercial audiences. If the price charged for advertising is based on the average programmes audience, this discrepancy effectively increases the cost of reaching a given number of viewers.
As Ephron (2007) notes, given great programmer competition and the billions of dollars spent annually on television advertising “even small-sounding differences in the audience size can have important effects on ad rates and marketers’ satisfaction with ad buys: “the networks would have killed for five percent t”. Gloede (2006) argues that advertisers will angle for lower rates and/or other compensation, such as messages integrated into programming or ad clutter reductions, if some shows are found to lose more of the programme audience when commercials appear (e.g. Ephron 2006; Steinberg 2005; Steinberg and Barnes 2006).
Consumers’ tolerance of advertisement in the print media seems to be greater than in the broadcast media. Readers can simply turn the pages and ignore the advertising if they so desire. Broadcast media tend to be more intrusive and therefore receive greater criticism (Omeje, 2004:117). It is quite common today to watch television programmes that are sponsored and identified with specific advertisers. This however, is not what the audience of the programme bargained for even if they may not have paid to watch television programmes.
Advertising is the main source of profit for television. Without money that advertisers pay, the television industry would not be able to produce television programming. In recent years, however, advertisers have been hesitant to pay for commercial time because fewer people are tuning into watch television and digital disc recorders are allowing people to skip the commercials. Thus television networks have had to provide alternative ways to provide advertising time. Myriads of programmes are produced daily for the consumption of the audience. Each specific programme so produced has a ripple effect of educating, informing, and entertaining as well as awareness creation as its main purpose or objective.
Traditionally, broadcast television networks have provided viewers with nominally free programmes in exchange for their attention, and sold that attention to advertisers based on programme audience measurements ( Wilbur,Goerce, & Ridder, 2003:1). The nature of advertising makes it a veritable tool for entertainment but, more importantly, the idea of entertainment must be geared towards securing the attention of the consumer and arousing his interest in the advertised products to compel desired action.
One ad rarely sparks a buying decision. Usually an audience may be exposed to several ads over a period of time unless one has an immediate need and one just happens to hear the commercial at the right time. Advertising builds customers over a period of time. The ability to deliver a critical mass of viewers in order to finance the costly program production with high-priced advertising was for decades the exclusive and highly successful domain of broadcast networks (Mermigas, 2002). With an ever increasing number of television channels available since the 1980’s consumer choices multiplied. Consequently the number of viewers tuning into a given programme began to erode. Audiences became smaller, more fragmented and more sharply defined by individual interests and attitudes (Kaatz, 1986). With the number of competing TV channels on the rise, avoiding commercials became more widespread because the individual recipient could always switch to a channel where the programme is not currently interrupted by a commercial break (Speck & Elliott, 1997:72).
Overview of super story
This is a programme that has been able to retain audience viewership since its inception. The programme which is aired on the network stations of NTA commands huge followership from Nigerians, especially women and children. The programme, from the stable of Wale Adenuga Production, stormed the airwaves with a captivating and touching story of a man who forgot his family when things became rosy for him. The series titled “Oh Father Oh Daughter”, had casts like Suara, Toyin Tomato, Abike among others. These names have since become memorable ones for many Nigerians.
The family-oriented programme which teaches factual lessons about life to every member of the family and society at large was first aired on NTA and has Unilever as its major sponsor. Super Story, which debuted in 2001, is clearly one of the most popular TV programmes in Nigeria and this is reflected in the number of TV stations on which it is aired. Super story still commands decent viewership because of its quality and creativity. The programme prides itself as “the toast if corporate advertisers”.
The programme employs various techniques to gain the attention and hold the interest of the audience, which create suspense and tension by leading the audience to wonder about possible solutions. These techniques include: plant, twists, interest curve, flashback, as well as hook and conflict. Plant is used to generate audience sympathy for rather dull character in the drama. There is something to remind the audience about an incidence which would take place later in the programme.
When twists are applied the audience feels somewhat cheated because its expectation never goes the way it predicted. To sustain the interest of an audience and to make that audience see the show to the end, twists are used. When this trick is applied, the audience would want to stay on to see what happens at the end. Also used is the interest curve. This is used to invoke the sympathy or apathy of the audience. The dominant concern here is the interest of the audience. Flashback is a short scene that takes the audience back into the past. It may review what has happened in a previous episode before the main one begins. This is to make the audience pay attention on the main episode. The programme also use hook to focus the attention of the audience on the problem in form of teasers. Conflict is equally introduced into the programme to hold audience attention. Without conflict in life, there will no meaning in existence. To succeed in life, there must be hurdles to cross. The story of life is the story of conflict. It is these point of the programme when the audience attention must have been grabbed and anticipates what is to happen next a commercial advert is introduced. And these are unending as they dominate a substantial part of the programme and take a chunk of the programme time. It is the interest of this research found how viewers of the programme perceive such advertising activity.
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