Sunday, June 1, 2008

Randomizing TV ads

Back when I used to watch tons (tons) of TV, one of my main skills was changing the channel at the right time so that I never watched any ads. I was like Arturo Toscanini orchestrating Sportscenter and re-runs of Comedy Central. However, almost all of my success relied on the fact that most station's ad periods were the same length.

If TV stations want us to watch ads (it's how they make money), then they should randomize this length. So maybe one ad period would be 4 minutes and another would be just 30 seconds. They wouldn't have to change the overall mean, but merely up the variance. This way, if you really don't want to miss any of the show, you'll have no choice but to stay tuned to the channel.

Yes, this would annoy people, but aren't people annoyed by ads anyways?