Infomercials are  television commercials that  sell products using  programming imitative  of noncommercial television shows. They  can run  anywhere from  one minute to one hour, with the standard length being just under 30 minutes. Originally shown between the  hours of 2 A.M. and  6 A.M., as a network’s alternative to signing  off, infomercials can now be viewed on numerous channels 24 hours a day.

Infomercials, also  called  paid  programming, are  characterized by  more   in-depth information about a product than the viewer receives in a typical television advertisement. Many  infomercials try to conceal their  commercial interests, and structure their  programming to  resemble talk  shows  or  other programs. Some are  developed around narrative storylines, and  many  feature celebrity  endorsements and  interviews concerning the product. Infomercials are considered direct response marketing, and  feature several  short segments within  the  larger  structure  that  invite the customer to call and place an order  right away. They  often  rely on  tactics  such  as limited-time offers,  exclusivity  of TV  sales,  and  emphasizing the revolutionary qualities of their  products in order  to make sales. In addition to celebrity  endorsements, personal testimonials are common, as are recommendations  from  scientists and  experts  in  the  field. Most  tend  to  be repetitive, interspersing the  broader content of narrative and  testimonial with catchphrases and lists of the product’s attributes.

Infomercials burgeoned in the 1980s, after the Federal  Communications Commission eased  restrictions on  television commercial programming. While  early infomercials were  usually  limited  to  late  night  screening, stations are  finding  it increasingly lucrative to show  infomercials at all hours of the day. In 2008, much of infomercial spending took place in the morning and daytime  hours. In addition to the  option of buying  products directly  from  a phone number given in the  infomercial, customers are increasingly turning to Web sites that  deal specifically in merchandise shown on infomercials. Web sites such  as and sell huge  ranges  of products, from  exercise  and  health products to electronics and  household goods,  all of which  are featured in infomercials on a wide variety of channels.

The  beauty  industry has  found a market in infomercials, especially  for personal  care  products and  exercise  equipment, which  benefit  from  personal testimonials  and   demonstrations.  Unlike traditional  retailers, which   rely  solely on  displays  and  packaging to  advertise, infomercials provide  before  and  after footage,  step-by-step instructions with  models on  the  use  of the  product, and interviews with customers asserting the  life-altering capabilities of the  product. A vast  number of beauty  and  health products that  use  infomercials also  use celebrity  endorsements, with  the  celebrity’s  exceptional beauty  as further testament  to the product’s revolutionary effectiveness.

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