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CHANNEL-SWITCHING - Delhi Business Review X Vol 7 No...

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Delhi Business Review X Vol. 7, No. 1 (January - June 2006) 71 CHANNEL CHANNEL CHANNEL CHANNEL - SWITCHING SWITCHING SWITCHING SWITCHING A CHALLENGE TO TELEVISION ADVERTISERS Savita Hanspal* DVERTISING expenditure constitutes an important segment of the total promotional budget. The marketer uses a combination of various media to reach its target audience. Television is an important media for all advertisers because of its reach and popularity. It is available as an advertising medium to not only the big firms but is also affordable by small firms, which use it through the local cable network. It provides a high household penetration as well as the facility of using a combination of audio, and video. This popularity has brought about an unprecedented growth in the number of channels; making it possible to reach niches of audiences. At the same time, the growing number of channels have further fragmented the audiences, thereby reducing the per channel audiences. The introduction of different channels has made television a °group of related but distinctly different media± (Thomas and Ronald, 1999). In addition to this, television rates are going up every year and technological innovations have placed greater control in the hands of the consumers, by providing them with remote control devices to facilitate the switching of channels with greater ease. The practice of using remote control devices to switch channels in order to avoid watching commercials is referred to as ²Zapping³. The emergence of 24-hour channels on cable networks has further provided the viewers with the facility to switch to different channels for latest news headlines or some music videos and resume watching the programs they started with. Such switching behavior of viewers has a negative impact on the efficiency of television advertising. It causes the ad ratings to fluctuate amongst the channels that are switched to as against those that are zapped. This in turn, makes it difficult to plan the buying of advertising time on television effectively. However, in spite of the increasing costs of reaching the audiences, there appears to be no other medium that could be more efficient. The advertiser must, therefore, make all efforts to ensure that he is able to reach the target audiences. Keywords: Channel Switching, Advertising Expenditure, Viewing Behavior, Television Advertising, Channel-Surfing. Earlier Studies A number of research studies in the United States have focused on describing the pattern and extent of channel-switching behavior (Kaplan, 1985), and profiling zapping-prone households (Heeter and Greenberg, 1985). Further, research has shown that even an incidental exposure to an ad increases the A * Reader, Department of Commerce, Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi, India.
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Savita Hanspal 72 likelihood that a product shown in an ad will be included in the brands that would be considered while making a purchase decision (Stewart, Macinnis and Heckler, 1997).
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