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Rediscovering the Infomercial

You’ve seen them late at night, those 28.5-minute commercials masquerading as shows. Compared with other late-night viewing options, many infomercial are quite entertaining! The program guide descriptions used to say “paid programming” but these days the program descriptions used by infomercials are much more intriguing. Like millions, you may find yourself tuning into an infomercial without even realizing. Next thing you know, you’re drawn in and calling that magic 1-800 number!

Evolution Of Tracking Infomercials

Specialized research companies have tracked the evolution of the infomercial over the years. The process used to entail recording cable network programming overnight and having humans fast forward through the recordings to note each infomercial airing. It makes sense that someone has to keep track of this stuff to measure which infomercials are the most successful and to have industry infomercial awards. Yes, such a thing exists and, of course, many infomercial products are sold by retailers who need to know how much TV time is being purchased by the infomercial companies. So, it’s vital that someone is tracking this stuff!

These days, the process of tracking infomercials has evolved. DRMetrix has created a new computer system called AdSphere™ which is capable of watching hundreds of cable channels and discovering new infomercials. Using a combination of pattern recognition and automated content recognition (ACR) computers can spot those 800 numbers that keep popping up on the screen throughout a program. Every infomercial has a unique audio and video fingerprint which is where the ACR comes in. AdSphere™ uses ACR to recognize the infomercial if it has been seen before and registered into a database of fingerprints. If the infomercial is not accepted, then it’s sent to a human to record as a brand new infomercial. The ACR is also able to keep track of every time an infomercial runs on any monitored network. No faster forwarding through recordings and having to keep track of infomercial airings manually.

The AdSphere Awards

Since creating its new infomercial monitoring system in late 2014, DRMetrix has tracked over 280,000 infomercial airings. But that’s nothing when you consider the company has used similar technology to monitor the entire direct response television industry which employs all kinds of formats including 30, 60, 120 and even 5-minute spots! When you add all of the shorter DRTV commercials to the mix, AdSphere™ has detected over 27 million airings across nearly 8,000 TV brands. Can you imagine humans trying to keep track of all of that? Today, DRMetrix recognizes all of the top direct response and infomercial companies with special AdSphere™ Awards. To see a list of this year’s winners, please click here.

Joseph Gray

CEO DRMetrix
(951) 234-3899