Brad DeLong thinks the time may have come:

The children routinely use the “mute” button on the remote to silence TV commercials, for no reason other than that they are annoying.

If they are representative of the younger generation, the effectiveness of TV advertising is about to take a *big* dive.

Indeed. One wonders, though, how different this is from channel flipping (which is what I used to do during commercials before I got DirectTV), going to the restroom, fetching a snack, or they myriad other things we’ve been doing to advoid the ads for years?

I wonder how different TV advertising is from computer spam. Obviously, the vast majority of the people are smart enough to filter through their spam (and junk snail mail, for that matter) without reading it. Yet, apparently, it still persuades some percentage to actually pay for the product being peddled. Given the apparent level to which most TV ads seem aimed, maybe they’re just trying to reach people too stupid to operate their remote control?

Update (2154): Apparently, Kevin Drum’s grandmother was way ahead of the DeLong kids on this one.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John says:

    TV advertising wishes it had the influence of spam. Penis enlarging pills? Flying over to Nigeria with 25 million dollars in a suitcase? I mean, if TV advertising could get people to do that…

  2. Dodd says:

    I saw something recently that suggested that many spammers don’t even need people to buy from them, they just need people to look at them. They then rake in the dough from the impressios on the banner ads embedded in their spams.

    Thank God for Mailwasher.

  3. bigwig says:

    Practically everythin Ngnat watches is via DVR, so 90% of the commercials she has ever been exposed to flew by at 4x fastforward.

  4. With the rise of DVRs the era of “free” tv will come to an end. What will replace it? Pay-per-view or HBO-type channels w/o commercials or product placement. Or how about some way for advertisers to pay to watch ads. The price could be entry into a contest, some kind of discount, or money. All I know is television advertising will radically change in my lifetime.

  5. Paul says:

    Saen, with all due respect that was the lie they told us to get us to pay for cable the first time.

    “You pay but you get no commercials.”

    yeah, I remember that line…

    No, what we will get is the banner ad on T.V.

    I predicted this years ago and I already see them starting to appear. Look for them.