For some time now, the nation’s two largest mobile phone carriers have competed almost exclusively with each other, marginalizing their smaller competitors. Verizon Wireless (VZW) has touted the reliability and extensiveness of its wireless network, while AT&T has focused on its network coverage and the superiority of its wireless technology. Now, as mobile phone operators prepare to deploy the next generation of wireless technology, the competitive pressures these companies face are changing dramatically.
If television networks want to drive more traffic to their websites, they should post more full-length episodes of their programming online, and do so sooner, rather than focusing on superfluous marketing gimmicks. In the DVR and TiVo age, when many viewers simply fast-forward through commercials, providing full-length programs on networks’ websites with limited commercial interruptions has a better chance of keeping viewers focused on the advertising. As someone who regularly finds himself catching up with certain programs on the network’s websites, I have noticed that because the commercial breaks are rather short (often between 15 and 45 seconds), I am exposed to more advertising. Also holding my attention on the commercials is the fact that I cannot channel surf during the breaks. Simply put, by delivering shows in an environment that eliminates most distractions from an advertiser’s message, networks can increase exposure to both their programs and their revenue sources.
Timely posting of shows to networks’ websites also helps, as I often need to catch up with a previous episode before a new one airs.
Verizon Wireless (VZW) recently began an ad campaign aimed squarely at both AT&T and its flagship device, the iPhone. By now, Apple’s “There’s an app for that” commercials are well known for showcasing one of the myriad applications available for the iPhone. VZW’s new ad campaign uses a minor tweak to the familiar wording to wheedle AT&T over its poor 3G coverage. In its “There’s a map for that” commercials, VZW declares, “If you want to know why your 3G coverage works so well on Verizon Wireless, there’s a map for that,” and proceeds to show red- and blue-tinged maps of the United States. As one would expect, the proportion of red covering the continental US far exceeds that of blue, by five times as the advertisements report. The campaign made me chuckle for two reasons when I initially came across it, first because of how easily Verizon Wireless could turn a successful Apple advertisement against the iPhone maker and its wireless partner, and again after I discovered that AT&T doesn’t even produce a map of its 3G coverage area.