The “Up next…” Philosophy of Customer Retention

It doesn’t matter what you watch on TV lately there is an “Up next” clip before commercials.  “Up next on Dr. Phil… America’s Next Top Model” or whatever.

The fear of losing you to channel surfing in that 3 minutes, (remember when it was 2 mins? ah the good old days) has created the necessity to run a commercial for the show you are already watching, while you are already watching it.

Does that reflect on our attention spans, having too many choices, the quality of the TV show, distaste for commercials in general; or desperation for market share; perhaps, all of the above.

For me, the urge to channel surf, is the distaste for the increased volume used during commercials.  They broadcast the ads at a greater volume than the regular programming.  They think it will grab your attention but it makes me reach for my remote because it offends my ears and wakes me out of my stupor.

Most of these “up next” clips occur during the plateau, or middle, stage of a show and usually only in shows running a full hour or more.  So rather than assess their efficacy at retaining your attention, or the quality of the show, they just yell at you that something interesting will follow.  They promise.  Really it will be great.  Please come back.

If they already have me watching the show they’ve done their job.  I’m already a customer.  So why am I wondering away during commercials?  Have they failed to develop their plot?  Failed to provide a connection to the characters or information? Is it the repetitive nature of advertising purchased to run during the show?  In the space of an hour do I really need to be told 4 or 5 times that Advil is my best choice when I’m hurting?

This bludgeoning approach to the consumer may well be a case of shooting themselves in the foot.  We get it already!  You’re the best, you’re the most economically priced, now tell me something new.

Are you over Tweeting your message till I don’t listen and begin to assume you have nothing new to say?  Do you post the same message over and over on FaceBook in the hopes that someone new will see it, even though you’ve had no new “friends” or “likes” in over a month?

What are you doing to engage your existing followers and get new ones?  Are you speaking at them or to them?

For example I’ve been following a fellow who initially got my attention because he had some great tips on using video to engage customers.  What I’ve now learned is that he’s been running the same few articles for over 2 weeks now.  They are clearly ads for his services and I’m bored now and will probably “unfollow” him by end of week, in search of someone who has more to say on the subject.

I recently had coffee with Digital Marketing expert Kneale Mann, here in Ottawa, and the subject of what to do with your friends and followers came up.  We met on Twitter.  We are of one mind on this one:  If you don’t figure this out, why bother engaging in social media at all.  These tools are meant to be conduits to your prospects; and to be used to engage the community.  They are meant to illicit interest in what you have to say so if you’re saying the same thing over and over why would people listen after the first few times.  They’ve got the message.

Specializing in community, or customer engagement, has been the mainstay of my career and I love using the ever evolving tools of social media to reach these broadening audiences.  They are sturdy rungs on the ladder to success for my clients.

So ask “questions” on facebook, use the @ sign to speak to followers and use hashtags strategically.  And for heaven’s sake, take the time to actually meet your “friends” and “Tweeps” if you can.  The human connection will be so surprising, word of mouth will happen naturally.

What’s “Up Next?  What can you teach me?  Wanna have a coffee?

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4 Responses to The “Up next…” Philosophy of Customer Retention

  1. Josée says:

    This is a bit of an aside, but your post made me think of an episode of CBC’s The Age of Persuasion; host Terry O’Reilly explained that commercials actually aren’t louder than the show they interrupt. Unfortunatley I don’t remember the details of his explanation but it was pretty technical. I found it really hard to believe – my ears are definintely offended by whatever is going on sound-wise during the commercial breaks!

  2. Arlene says:

    Yes, that “up next” thing drives me crazy as well… So annoying, in fact, that I’ve actually yelled at my TV. Always a worthwhile exercise!! Now, however, I tape pretty much everything on my PVR so that – at the first indication that we’re going to commercial – I hit the FF button. It keeps my blood pressure at a healthy level!
    Re the noise level of commercials, I read once that the commercial can be as loud as the loudest point of the TV show… So if there’s a noisy car chase, for instance, that peak in sound level can be used for the commercial. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but there you have it.
    And finally… I believe that our media-perceived shortened attention span is to blame for the use of the “up next” trick. I wonder if they’ve analyzed if that ‘lure’ actually works?!

  3. RealGrouchy says:

    Josee – I believe it is that TV shows have a higher dynamic range, whereas commercials are pretty much all at the same volume. That said, when I’m watching the Daily Show on my computer late at night at a volume intended to not disturb my neighbours, I always have to rush for the mute button when the Sensodyne lady comes on to tell us how good it feels in her mouth.

    I totally agree with you about the “up next” clips. Watching TV shows online (esp. ones on the Discovery Channel’s website) the commercial breaks are usually 1-2 ads anywhere from 5 to 30s each (the numbers vary by channel and show; there are more ads on channels that can attract the viewers and advertisers), sometimes the ads are to watch online the show you’re watching online. Back to the topic, the real reason for these clips is most evident with Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. There’s about 10 minutes of content on each 22-minute episode, padded with a really long opening sequence and lots of “up next”s and recaps.

    – RG>

  4. Kneale Mann says:

    This means a company of one or one hundred thousand need to understand that building a larger stage won’t necessarily bring a crowd. There are certain “actors” who may have made it appear you can do nothing and many will follow but those are are rare as a leprechaun riding a unicorn.

    I’m following you – now what?

    Well in the case of Lucia, she has already kicked my butt twice on some business ideas and given me a good slap around for good measure. That’s fast friends! Oh and we had coffee too.

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