History of the Infomercial

When television was first getting started many shows were actually created by their sponsors in order to have a medium to promote their products and services. The entertainment value of the show was secondary and the goal of selling a product or service was primary. However, the FCC eventually got involved and placed limits on how much advertising could actually take place within a television show. As a result, sponsors creating programs to advertise their products were done away with. This was not quite an infomercial, but it was certainly the pre-cursor to this type of advertising.

It is believed that the first North American infomercial occurred in the 1970s on XETV based out of San Diego. The program was a one-hour advertisement on Sundays on homes for sale in the local area. The FCC limits of 18 minutes of commercial time during a one-hour show did not apply because it was actually located in Mexico despite broadcasting its programs in English and to an American audience.

Commercial content that was highly regulated in the 1950s and 1960s found a new atmosphere in the 1980s when the Federal Communications Commission eliminated many of the regulations that had previously been in place. In 1984, infomercials truly got their beginning because there was airtime that could be used for their sole purpose. Perhaps the very first true infomercial was for the Ginsu Knife. The format was created by Barry Beecher and Edward Valenti for this very purpose.

Teleshopping, which is similar to the American infomercial, began in 1979 and became very popular in the UK during the 1980s. The television time that is frequently sold for infomercial advertising is sometimes purchased by televangelists to air their messages. Politicians buy these time frames, too.

In the beginning, infomercials most frequently were shown really late at night and very early in the morning as opposed to going off the air. However, over time stations found that airing infomercials at other times of the day could be quite profitable and now it is more common to see an infomercial during the morning, daytime, and even during early prime and prime time. Some stations do nothing more than air infomercial programming 24 hours per day.

One of the largest media buying agencies for any infomercial and DRTV spot is A. Eicoff & Co. of Chicago

The Current Advertising Market is in Meltdown

With audiences disappearing, TV rates plummeting and clients cutting already slender budgets, perhaps we should be rejoicing that the days of hype and excess are finally over.

The advertising boom of yesteryear will forever be associated with the credit boom. Just as the values of that economic system are now discredited, so to will be the values of the marketing and advertising boom that went with it.

In the future we will no longer have high regard of advertising/marketing that is mass-produced. We will be amazed that Clients, like Guinness, will have paid 15 million pounds for the production of a TV commercial.
Marketing is everything a company does to acquire customers and maintain a relationship with them. Even the small tasks like writing thank-you letters, playing golf with a prospective client, returning calls promptly and meeting with a past client for coffee can be thought of as marketing.

The all-embracing concept of marketing has been lost on a lot of companies, resulting in a poisoning of the well, a deeply ingrained lack of trust that, now has become an enormous obstacle to overcome:

Marketers have spammed, lied, deceived, cluttered and ripped us off for so long, we’re sick of it.

Which means that even if you have a really good reason, no, you can’t call me on the phone. Which means that even if it’s really important, no, I’m not going to read the instructions. Which means that god forbid you try to email me something I didn’t ask for… you’re trashed. It’s so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.

Like all those packaged-up bundles of bad debt, contemporary advertising had no fundamental value. It was misplaced faith in future economic growth that drove up the values of 30-second TV commercials!

The Clients spent so much money on advertising because they believed that they were living in the best of times and that it was all just a one way street – upwards! We all now know all this wasn’t true.

In the years to come this advertising will be seen as the ultimate symbol of the economic fairyland we have been living through in the past five years, an era in which the world lost touch with its sense of value.

These were not masterpieces of advertising, they were the icons of idiocy.My recently published book “Television killed advertising” is now available @ Amazon Books UK. In the book I detail just how much more effective interactive communication is when compared to conventional advertising and details the results of a research investment in excess of £5 m. It also discusses where we went wrong in the past and where we are going to go wrong in the future unless we learn the real meaning of the word “communication.”

Having invested over $10 million in independent research, Paul Ashby is ideally suited to present the case for the widespread use of interactive marketing communication. The research investment has proved conclusively that one exposure to an interactive “event” is far more effective in all key measurements, than traditional advertising. Paul made this investment because has established that Interactive Communication, properly executed, can be totally accountable, unlike all forms of advertising! You can contact Paul at: paul.ashby@yahoo.com

Discover more on http://interactivetelevisionorinteractivetv.blogspot.com