The SquareSpace Effect
I listen to a ton of podcasts, watch a lot of video podcasts, and have moved all of my TV watching to online services like Hulu. Overall the experience over mainstream television and radio is so good it can’t be measured! Better quality content, and the choice to watch only shows that I want instead of having to weed through the massive amount of garbage that is on mainstream media. With the lack of intelligence and an over abundance of worthless advertisements, mainstream media is dead to me. Podcasts and Hulu have ads, so what’s the difference? There are a couple of differences: podcasts and the like generally have fewer ads that are more targeted toward the show you are watching, making for a more effective ad. These ads are also generally slipped into context of the shows. Hulu has more traditional ads but fewer per show and generally will have ads that are genuine in their intent.
Everything sounds pretty good, so what’s the problem? The problem is what I am calling “The SquareSpace Effect”. It’s unfortunate that they were the ones that had to take the blame for this, but they were the first ones that made me realize the problem. The problem is frankly over advertising. To the point of turning would be customers into anti-product maniacs. Over the 15-20 audio and video podcasts that I subscribe, a company like SquareSpace is on 90% of them with the same exact ad every week. I understand you need to get your companies name out there, but when you are targeting something that is an RSS feed where you are pretty sure you have a majority of repeat customers, you maybe can cut back some. Also a lot of the podcasts I listen to are on the same network, and it’s pretty likely that listeners subscribe to many podcasts on the same network due to similar content. This could be a problem that only effects the technology genre of this new media, but that is my focus.
The second case of this comes from Hulu. They have a similar problem. They seem to have a very small library of commercials to splice into the shows. This means that during an hour of viewing Hulu TV shows, I am pretty much guaranteed to see the same commercials every time. There have been more instances than I can count where the same exact commercial has played 4-5 times in a row during my viewing. A specific example I can remember was the ad for the movie 500 Days of Summer. After seeing the commercial the first time I thought it looked like a movie I would wan to go see. After seeing the same commercial for the 6th consecutive viewing I hated the movie and wanted nothing to do with it.
There needs to be a compromise here! I find the advertising to be VERY successful on this “new media” but I feel like they might be beating and kicking the poor dead horse. I have purchased several products due to ads on these new media networks, but they have to be careful of over advertising and killing the brand.