Opinion: Perspective - Why reports of the TV ad's demise are unfounded

Over lunch the other day, an agency chief revealed that his children had stored a handful of programmes on Sky+ simply because the ad breaks carried a couple of their favourite ads.

This sounds like a bizarre perversion of the personal video recorder norm, but apparently it has nothing to do with the fact that these kids have grown up in a household with more than the usual reverence for the craft of advertising. In fact, their dad couldn't actually name the ads in question.

But it does go some way to justifying that piece of collective industry optimism: that the ads really are sometimes better than the TV programmes themselves. And it certainly gives the lie to all the doom-mongerers and opportunists who have blithely - and increasingly loudly - been proclaiming the death of TV advertising.

See our feature on page 20 for all the reasons why traditional TV advertising will continue to keep agencies in business for many years to come: new opportunities for greater targeting of TV ads, the increasingly sophisticated interactivity that can support a commercial message, the sheer impact of a fantastic piece of creativity seen by millions of people at the same time.

But, of course, there's no smoke without a survey or two to fan the debate, and for years now we've been subjected to research showing how PVR homes brutally eschew commercial breaks and find live TV an intensely frustrating experience when they can't hit the fast-forward button. So much so in fact that it's not unusual for viewers with Sky+ to record a programme and then start watching it ten minutes after the live transmission begins; this way you can fast-forward through the ad breaks and finish watching the show at the same time as all the poor buggers without a PVR who have had to endure the commercial messages.

So it's refreshing to read statistics like those from Starcom's latest research, which shows that ad awareness in PVR households is just 17 per cent below non-PVR homes. It seems that having Sky+ helps viewers reduce their own advertising clutter and absorb only those advertising messages that are attractive and relevant. So the right ads in the right programmes can have more cut-through than those viewed on live TV.

Which brings us back to the children who've stored ad breaks on their Sky+. It's been said before, but it's absolutely worth saying again (and again and again): really great and pertinent TV advertising will have an effective role for a long, long time to come.

Before we all get PVR-ed up, there's still a window of opportunity for advertisers to establish their credentials for interesting and entertaining advertising. That way, when viewers are zapping through the breaks at maximum speed they just might be encouraged to slow down and watch. I bet many viewers are already doing just that whenever they spot a Levi's logo, or a Stella ad, or a car ad if they're in the market for a new motor.

And, of course, anyone involved in communications should be working hard on the TV alternatives to spot advertising, such as sponsorship, branded content and even product placement. Just in case.

Barely a day goes by when Campaign desks and desktops aren't littered with new ad campaigns, agency brochures and creative showcases.

But best of the recent bunch is definitely the latest showcase from Bob Isherwood, the worldwide creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi. Unfortunately, it's called the Ideas & Ideas Book, but never mind. It's actually a USB drive that plugs into your keyboard and loads up all the network's recent film, print, DM, ambient, design and interactive work on to your Mac.

Not only does it really bring the work to life, it brings a whole new meaning to reducing advertising clutter.