'Podbuster' Ads, Calculated To Make You Hit Pause Also known as DVR busters and interstitial ads, the mini-commercials are made to look and feel like your favorite TV shows -- and to capitalize on the feelings you associate with them. And they're on the rise.
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'Podbuster' Ads, Calculated To Make You Hit Pause

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'Podbuster' Ads, Calculated To Make You Hit Pause

'Podbuster' Ads, Calculated To Make You Hit Pause

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/132838343/132805944" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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TV: NPR's Neda Ulaby reports.

NEDA ULABY: Dan Portnoy is not a big TV watcher. He follows very few shows, but he likes his favorites a lot.

DAN PORTNOY: I'm a big fan of "Mad Men," and so I watch it religiously.

ULABY: Unidentified Man #1: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHAMPOO COMMERCIAL)

ULABY: You're getting shorter. You've lost a tooth. You're drunk. You're sober. A little bit of both.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ULABY: Now, it looked like "Mad Men." It sounded like "Mad Men." But it was an ad for shampoo.

PORTNOY: I felt snookered

ULABY: Still, Portnoy had to admit the ad was diabolically effective.

PORTNOY: By the time you realize that it's an advertisement, you're pretty much all the way through the commercial.

ULABY: About 40 percent of U.S. households have digital video recorders. That means 40 percent of households can easily speed over commercials. So it helps a show like "Top Chef" get advertisers if it sprinkles attention-grabbing bits of content inside advertising blocs - or, as they're called in the industry, pods.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "TOP CHEF")

ULABY: Unidentified Woman #1: Sooner or later, though...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TOP CHEF")

ULABY: Unidentified Man #4: Shake what your mama gave you.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "TOP CHEF")

ULABY: There's other kinds of podbusters, too, like the ones featuring actors from whatever show you're watching. You've seen that if you follow "Glee" or "30 Rock."

(SOUNDBITE OF A COMMERCIAL)

: I was a real good hugger.

NBC: For exclusive "30 Rock" holiday fun times, card members go to NBC.com/AmericanExpress.

ULABY: One ad executive told me the most effective podbusters drive viewers online, where they'll use social media to interact with their programs and the products that sponsor them.

MIKE ROSEN: We have data that will show, second- by-second, what viewers are doing during these commercial breaks, what kind of behaviors are going on. So we've gotten a much better sense of what works and what doesn't work.

ULABY: Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

: By the way, we've gathered a few of these podbuster ads at our website. If you're curious, you can go to npr.org. But if you don't have time to do that, don't worry. The ads will sneak up on you, anyway.

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