The word infomercial refers to a very specific form of TV advertising. Let's break apart the pieces and identify the parameters and ingredients of an infomercial. 1. An infomercial is an advertisement. 2. An infomercial must be program-long. 3. An infomercial must solicit a specific direct response from the viewer. IT IS AN AD. First and foremost, an infomercial is simply another form of advertisement. It is a commercial message, and as such represents the viewpoints and serves the interest of the sponsor. It is a "paid program." IT IS LONG FORM. Unlike conventional 30 and 60 second TV ads, an infomercial runs at least a half hour. The reason: a half hour is the smallest block of airtime a TV station will sell without interrupting its programming schedules. (NO program on TV is shorter than 30 minutes.) IT SOLICITS A "DIRECT" RESPONSE. An infomercial must solicit a response which is specific and quantifiable. The solicitation and the delivery of the response must be direct between the advertiser and the viewer. Unfortunately, the term infomercial is not universally understood in the industry, and infomercials may be called different things by different people. The list of official sounding names, from "documercials" to "long-form advertising" is "paid programming," is endless and can be confusing: some term do not adequately define the scope of this new form of advertising. For example, the term long-form advertising seems to be a favorite among media people. Unfortunately, the term describes only the time aspect, disregarding purpose and content.
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