Will interactive options replace the 30 second TV ad?

Yesterday I went to the Contertainment debate, chaired by Campaign’s Colin Marrs, about the future of 30 second TV adverts. The general theme of most of the presenters was that technology allows all sorts of exciting interactivity, which makes 30 second TV adverts seem stale and boring by comparison.

How they did interactive TV in the 1990s

Although a few years old now, this Tom Scott video is still a fun reminder of how TV interactivity used to work before the internet. more

Although they demonstrated some very impressive ideas and technology, there is a lot of merit in the view, as I pointed out in a question, that there are lots of examples of the public preferring non-interactive options. For example, it is decades now since books such as the Fighting Fantasy series which allowed people to choose what happens next, let alone the whizzy technological options now available, and yet the non-interactive linear book still dominates.

Interaction requires effort and that’s not always what we want. Interaction also relies on us making choices when sometimes other people making choices for us produces results we like better. (Often I’d rather a great TV show writer determines what happens next in a show, because they’ve got a better sense of plot, pacing and humour than me – and so will produce a show that I like better. Of course, when they get it wrong, then I sometimes wish I’d been in control of the script.)

The panel made some good points in reply, such as that just because something isn’t for everybody all the time, that doesn’t mean it can’t be of growing importance. But the sharpest point was from the chap from RubberRepublic, who highlighted that the move away from TV adverts meant the old 30 second time limit didn’t really matter any more. 30 seconds suited the scarcity of broadcast time, but if you are taking your efforts elsewhere the logic behind 30 seconds no longer applies. In some cases, shorter pieces are more appropriate and in other cases longer pieces. Away from TV advert breaks you can choose the length which most suits.

He gave the following example of a spoof mini-documentary they had produced, which comes in at four minutes. It wouldn’t have worked as a 30 second TV advert, but as a four minute film on YouTube it does the job nicely in making people in creative industries think about the South West as a place for creative industries to be based: