It is old news now that advertisers are trying to find new ways to avoid the growing “TiVo-ad skipping” phenomenon, by either substituting the 30-sec TV spot with alternative media (TV spot ad spending, according to TNS Media Intelligent, has declined 10% from 2004 to 2005), or by making it more engaging. CBS might have just found the way. Mark Burnett’s new game "The Gold Rush" (a treasure hunt of 13 armored trucks hidden throughout the country and containing $2 million in gold) will embed clues for viewers in AOL.com, CBS programming as well as ….CBS commercials. So, hold on your TiVo remote control before skipping that ad: it might contain clues to your early retirement.
Will this work for advertisers? It depends. First it will depend on how well the game is developed and how much attention it gets; second, and more importantly, it will depend on how well the commercials with embedded clues will fit the target profile of the people interested in the game. The point is: companies can lure me to watch their commercials – they might even persuade me to record their commercials on my TiVo and view them over and over again – but if I don’t need the product, or if the product is still not appealing, they would still waste their money. Again, it is not just about “reach” and it is not just about “engaging”. It is about engaging consumers with targeted and highly relevant advertisement.