The study examined the assessment of audience perception of commercial break. The study adopted survey method of research design and a sample size of 400 that was derived from study population of 3301,657. Questionnaire was the main data collection instrument used for the collection of data. Data collected were analysed in simple percentage. The finding of the study showed that most of the audiences perceived commercial breaks to be so distraction and for such should be discontinued in TV programme. It was also observed in the findings that the audiences have various perception toward commercial breaks and irrespective of the various perceptions the audiences still perceive it to come at beginning of a programme if at all the commercials have to be aired.it on this ground that the study recommends that TV commercial programme presenters should design commercials in such a way that it will not distract the audiences’ form watching and listening to other TV programme and at the same time commercial breaks should come at the beginning of programmes in order to enable the audiences to concentrate on TV programmes other than commercials.
Effective advertising requires an understanding of the target audience and their relationship with the brand. However, advertisements are worthless to advertisers unless the consumer toward whom the advertisement is directed pays attention to it. Existing literature suggests that slotting commercial at moments when a consumer is fully involved with the content of the programme is strategic.
Advertising revenue provides a significant portion of the funding for most privately- owned television networks.
The vast majority of television advertisement today consists of brief advertising spots ranging in length from a few seconds to several minutes. Advertisements of this sort have been used to promote a wide variety of goods, services and ideas and thus how the mass media audience reacts to commercial breaks is the focus of this study.
- Background Of Study
The significance of television as a medium of mass communication is fast assuming a highly imperative position throughout the world. Television by virtue of sound, vision and movement offers a high degree of creative flexibility.
Television has added another dimension to its advantages which is that of persuasion, this singular act has made it possible for the medium to outshine other media of communication. It now serves as an organ through which governments and advertisers sell their goods and services.
It has brought the art of product awareness to millions of households. It has the selling power for most types of goods and services-detergents, soft drinks, communication tariffs, beer, cloths, etc. People have colour television sets and this allows for greater pragmatism of presentation in commercials. In fact, television is a significant medium for advertisers. In 2000, television accounted for 39 per cent of total money spent on advertising (US$51 billion) in the US, 32 percent or 3.9 billion in the UK (WARC, 2002) while in Australia, it exceeded AUD$2.8 billion in 2003 (Brook,2003).
However, whilst the amount of money spent on television advertising is significant literature in the area reveals that less time is devoted to television viewing. Additionally, the advent of remote controls, fragmentation of TV channels and increase in size and number of ad slots have resulted in viewers increasingly paying even less attention to the commercials (Beal,2002).
Consequently, effective media placement decisions are becoming more imperative than ever before. The goal for any advertiser is to get the best value for their advertising money by placing their commercial in such a way as to effectively reach the maximum possible proportion of the potential viewing audience.Television advertisement placement decisions are based on programme audience viewing data(that is, the ratings as measured by the people meters), which provides the currency by which airtime is traded, and the method by which the value of different advertisement slots are compared. From this, reach and frequency goals are set. In general, the higher the rating (the larger the number of viewers with an opportunity to see a particular programme), the higher the cost of the advertisement space during that time, (Lloye and Clancy, 1991). However, the ratings only deliver vehicle exposure, that is, likelihood that an individual watch a television programme containing a particular advertisement (McDonald 1996).
An individual, therefore, has an opportunity to see the commercial but it is still not possible to say with any certainty that the ad was actually seen. Yet, from an advertiser’s point of view, it is the actual ad viewing that is important. Whereas media planners and advertisers readily accept that commercial audiences are smaller than programme audiences, no generalizable guideline exists by which they can determine the size of the television audience actually viewing their commercials. This study will examine the behavior of viewers both during programmes and commercials break. Media houses offer informational, educational and entertainment programmes to the audience such as high cognitive (news and documentaries), high affective (soap operas and series), low impact (situation comedies, action series) sports, talk shows and cartoons. Some of such programmes have been known to force people to go home from wherever they are, so as not to miss the next episode or edition. While viewers are watching programmes, it is a common practice that television houses often slot in commercials which break the continuity of these programmes to the irritation of viewers. The advertisers often want their commercials to be aired at prime time, while these viewers want their favouriteprogrammes to be uninterrupted by commercials. This creates conflict between the interest of advertisers and interest of viewers. It is suggested that commercial breaks at points where the audience is devoting a great deal of attention to the programmes are desirable because this high attention level will be likely to carry over the ad or ads showing during the commercial break (Krugman, 1983). On the other hand, it is argued that commercial breaks at points in a programme where the audience is particularly involved in the programmes content will be detrimental because the ongoing processing of programme content during the commercial break will interfere with, and distract them from processing the commercial message (Soldow and Principe, 1981).
1.2. Statement Of Research Problem
Television has achieved a very high degree of penetration in the population and many people watch television programmes for several hours each day. However, these programmes are always interrupted to make way for the insertion of commercial messages. The situation has come to a stage where it will be logically assumed that the gullibility of the television audience is now taken for granted by television houses and also that money has now become their primary consideration. Thus, this study intends to examine audience perception of commercial breaks and how mass media audience feel or react when the programmes they are watching on television are interrupted by commercial breaks.
1.3. Objective Of Study
The broad objective of this study is to assess the perception of the mass media audience of TV commercials and also to examine how mass media audiences react to commercial breaks.
The more specific objectives of the study include:
- To investigate if theaudiences own a TV set.
- To investigate if the audiences watch every programme on TV.
- To ascertain if the audiences watchTV commercials.
- To determine the perceptions of TV viewers in Awka Urban about the appropriate time for commercial breaks.
- To determine if the audiences would like commercial breaks to continue to be part of TV programmes.
1.4. Research Questions
In order to find out how the mass media audience perceive or react towards commercial breaks. The following research questions were posed:
- How many TV audiences in Awka Urban own aTV set?
- How often do TV audiences in Awka Urban watch programmes?
- What do TV audiences in Awka think is theappropriate timefor commercial breaks?
- What is the position of TV audiences in Awka toward the continuing existence of commercial breaks on TV?
1.5. Scope of Study
The scope of the study is limited to Awka Urban which is made up of Awka indigenes, students, civil servants, business operators, politicians, lecturers, non-teaching staffs etc. The television station used in this study isNTA,Awka.
1.6. Significance Of Study
Much has been said about the qualities of television as an effective communication medium in disseminating commercial messages to a large audience scattered across the globe. However, the feeling of television audience towards these commercials, especially, when the programmes are interrupted to make way for commercials cannot be overlooked. The result of this study will hopefully guide the government in formulating future policies regarding television broadcasting generally in Nigeria, with a view to improving their services and in line with audience expectations. The study will therefore help to ascertain how commercial advert will be placed and how important these commercials are to advertisers in displaying their products in the media and also to know audience perception towards commercial breaks.
1.7. Definitions Of Terms
For the purpose of clarity some terms used in this study are defined. They are as follows:
Assessment: The act of judging or deciding the amount, value, quality, or importance of something or the judgment or decision that is made.
Perception: The way you think about or understand someone or something, the ability to understand or notice something easily.
Commercial break: An interruption in transmission of broadcast programming during which advertisements are broadcast.
Audience: The assembled spectators or listeners at a public event such as play, film, concert or meeting.
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