The History and Future of Adverts

London Piccadilly during night evening

Adverts have evolved with the way we watch television. Once upon a time, people would put up with between five and seven minutes of adverts between the two halves of your episode of Emmerdale or EastEnders every night. Today we find out how the public used to spend their time during the adverts, what we do now and what the future may hold.

TV Pickup

For every half an hour of watching your favourite TV show, you would spend a fifth of your time watching the adverts, or would you? Adverts don’t signal seven minutes of sales pitches in Britain, they mean thousands of Brits making a dash for the bathroom, fridge, or kettle – also known as the TV Pickup.

During 2010, at the time of the FIFA World Cup, the National Grid predicted TV Pickup energy demands equivalent to 1.2 million kettles being turned on at once. This would be because more people would be watching the same program, therefore, more people would be taking their TV breaks during the same advert times. This would cause immense power surges at electricity stations.

The largest TV pickup ever recorded was in fact during the England v West Germany FIFA World Cup semi-final, in July 1990, which demanded the equivalent of 1.12 million kettles across the country. This phenomenon shows that we have been avoiding those pesky adverts, but not all adverts. Occasionally, there happens to be an advert that really captures the heart of the public. We’re sure that you will remember one of the adverts we describe in the next segment.

 Our Favourite Adverts

Some of the best adverts are the ones that can make us laugh, but there are others which have made this short list simply for the stories that they tell or the feelings that they evoke. These are the adverts that kept Britain glued to the sofa for a precious two minutes during the ad-breaks:

Cadbury Gorilla

Cadbury’s Gorilla advert is a classic, depicting a Gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight. This advert causes laughter for most viewers, as well as the need to start playing the air drums in others. You can watch the advert in the video below:

The best part of this advert is the actor’s commitment to the Gorilla’s love for the drums. Watching this advert, there’s a huge build up on the Gorilla, who originally seems quite tense before the camera pans out to reveal the drums before him and he gets to let loose.

This advert succeeds not only because of its twist – a scary gorilla that actually just wants to de-stress – but it also keyed into some intense feelings that everyone can relate to.

Sony Bravia

Although you might not think so at first, Sony Bravia’s bouncy balls bear a lot of similarity to the Cadbury Gorilla. The advert depicts no less than 250,000 bouncy balls being set loose in San Francisco, with no CGI – it’s all real.

This advert lacks the humour of Cadbury’s Gorilla, but it does evoke some similar feelings. For example, the waves of colour spreading throughout the city appeal to our sense of wonder, much like the image of a gorilla playing the drums. Similarly, the force of these globules of colour is unstoppable which suggests a moment of freedom and joy.


How Are Adverts Changing?

The TV Pickup is proof that we avoid adverts as much as possible, and it has become even easier to skip adverts with the dawn of catch-up TV – the ability to skip past adverts if you’re watching a few minutes later than when the show was aired. The advent of streaming services has also affected how we see adverts too as more people ditch national television in favour of services like Netflix where you can pay to watch without adverts interrupting your favourite show.

If given the decision between watching a thirty-minute show with adverts, and one without, it is clear from TV Pickup that we would choose to watch our preferred media without interruptions. If we need a break, we can now simply press pause and return when we feel like it. The mad five-minute dash to use the loo, boil the kettle and grab something from the fridge during the ad break is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Our TV usage today is much more leisurely, it could even be described as user-friendly. This also means that adverts have had to evolve to other platforms and types. Instead of watching adverts in the form of short clips on the TV, they now populate the internet in many different forms. Adverts on YouTube aren’t always simple fifteen-second videos; sometimes they might take the form of a quick quiz that demands some form of interaction, which means that the viewer is forced to concentrate on the advert in order to access the video.

Not only are adverts changing their form, but we are also seeing adverts that are specially selected to match our interests based on our online browsing history. For example, if you watch a murder mystery on Netflix, the next time you access the Netflix library, you might find that more murder mystery type shows have been placed near the top of the screen to entice you to watch more.

The Future of Adverts

On services like YouTube, advertising techniques are getting fiercer by demanding user interaction. On others, however, we are seeing more subtle transformations – such as using your viewing history to guide you towards similar products. Advertising isn’t changing in any one direction, but instead, it is adapting to match the service provided. For Netflix to maintain its ad-free service, we might see increases to subscription rates, or we might start to see some more product placement instead of adverts.

Video archives concept.

Whatever the future of adverts turns out to be, we can provide you with some of the best cheap TVs to watch those adverts on. Whether you’re just opening up the YouTube app on your cheap smart TV to see the Cadbury Gorilla one more time, or logging into some Sky TV to view your favourite shows, you should be viewing it at its best by purchasing one of our incredible TVs.

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