The biggest reason for the decline of advertising imo is the demise of OTS.

OTS was just a simple number on the brief, it came from the media dept and it was an abbreviation for ‘Opportunities To See’.

Basically, it just meant roughly how many times our target market might see our ads.

Media depts deal in figures about ratings, and reach, and penetration, and TVRs, and all sorts of numbers that mean nothing to me.

I don’t need to know what those numbers mean because I don’t work in the media dept.

But I do need to know anything that affects my ads and how they get seen.

I need to know it in simple language that I can understand.

So I need the media dept to break it down into a number that’s useful for me.

That’s why OTS was one of the most important parts of the brief.

How many times would my target market be exposed to my advertising?

That meant I had an idea whether it would get boring, whether I’d need more than one ad.

For instance, the brief might say this advertising has an OTS of 20.

That meant my target market would see my advertising roughly 20 times.

So I’d think, will they get bored seeing the same ad twenty times?

Will they start to turn off?

In order to keep them interested will I need more than one ad?

Generally, I’d figure a single ad would need an OTS of around 5.

For an OTS of 20 or above, we might need a campaign of three ads or more.

You’d know an ad would begin to get predictable and boring after the sixth or seventh time, which meant viewers would change channels, fast forward, or leave the room, so you were wasting your money running the same ad too many times.

Which is why you’d make a campaign of several ads.

You keep the same central thought, but you don’t want viewers to get bored so you present it in different, surprising ways in different ads.

And instead of getting boring it gets reinforced, you make the same point from a different angle each time, the brand gets refreshed and it stays fresh in the consumers mind.

I think that’s the reason we don’t put OTS on the briefs anymore.

It would be too embarrassing.

The OTS for a single ad would now be around 100.

Creatives and clients would read the brief and say:

“Hang on, you mean they’re going to be seeing the same ad OVER A HUNDRED TIMES?  They’ll be bored bloody sick of it.”

It’s too embarrassing to admit we’re asking for a single piece of content which we’re going to bash the consumer over the head with again and again.

Often the same ad in every commercial break all night.

The OTS would show too clearly just exactly how dull and boring the advertising will be.

No one wants to admit that, so we’ve stopped including that figure on the brief.

Adam Morgan, who wrote Eating the Big Fish, has approached the subject of how boring  advertising is from a purely financial angle.

He’s just launched a series of podcasts, the first episode is with Peter Fields, Group Head of Effectiveness at Adam & Eve.

Fields shows, with charts and statistics, how boredom and dullness is wasting £10-15 million of clients’ money per campaign on average.

It’s amazing no one’s thought of this before, quite obviously the problem with advertising is it bores everyone to death.

But this didn’t seem to be a problem as long as it was seen to work, i.e. sell stuff.

But the question is, why has advertising become so inefficient and wasteful at doing that?

That’s where it’s worth looking at different solutions to the problem.

For me, even the best commercial will get boring after about the 50th viewing.

Which is why the place to start, is what the viewer receives and why it bores them stiff.

Put the OTS back on the brief, up front, so there’s nowhere to hide what’s happening.