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Mailblaster is an online newsletter targeting those who do business with or have an active interest in what’s happening on Madison Avenue. More and more, the newsletter is focusing on alternatives to the 30- or 60-second commercial. They are predicting an evolution from zapping (that is, changing the channel to avoid commercials) to skipping (that is, using your digital video recorder to skim past commercials) to “opt-out” (that is, being willing to pay extra to watch the show without commercials). One recent article identifies a broad range of alternatives to traditional advertising that are being tested in what many see as an experimental period for the future of branding and marketing. Most of these involve some further blurring of the line between commercials and content, including product placements, programs based on ad campaigns, short interstitial movies, pop up ads on the bottom of your television screen, even the prospect of a whole channel devoted to content generated by a particular sponsor (if this seems unlikely, see if your local cable company is getting the Hallmark Channel, which mostly programs the four or five decades of content generated by the Hallmark Hall of Fame). Another article amounts to a countdown to the death of the 30-second commercial. Mailblaster was set up to help advertisers find ways to “cut through the clutter” of the current media environment, but it also offers consumers a chance to glance behind the curtain and see what the media manipulators are going to hit us with next. Where else could you learn about Shockvertising!

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