Nielsen asked 1,000 consumers on its new “engagement” panel if they could recall any TV commercials they had seen — only one third of them could. In contrast, 79% could recall at least one TV show. This is not the least bit surprising because traditional TV advertising creates NO value for consumers in the moment — or very little.

Contrast your average interruptive TV ad with the other end of the advertising value spectrum, which is currently occupied by search advertising. Search advertising brings you relevant information about a company’s products or services, in the moment when you’re thinking about it, and typically takes you directly to the company’s website where you can actively “engage” (depending on the quality of the site).

The push for “branded entertainment” as a form of online advertising is still closely aligned with the traditional TV commercial ethos — it’s also aligned, on the positive side, with the YouTube Web-as-micro-entertainment ethos. But as anyone who has ever tried viral video knows, creating value for consumers around entertainment — to actual ENTERTAIN — is very hard to do well.

In contrast, creating value for consumers by providing useful, relevant information is MUCH easier. That’s why there are tens of thousands of advertisers that have done so successfully with search advertising — and so few that have succeeded at creating truly entertaining content.

Certainly there is an emotional component to branding — a world of pure utility information-based advertising wouldn’t be a panacea either.

But it’s embarrassingly clear how bankrupt of value most traditional TV advertising is — and how wasted the majority of those billions of mass advertising dollars are.

How long before big TV ad spender wake up to the imperative of creating REAL value for consumers? How long before the shareholders of big public company advertisers spending millions on valueless advertising start holding their feet to the fire?

Until advertising agencies realign themselves to themselves with digital advertising platforms that create more value for consumers, it may still be awhile.