22nd June 09:09
Television Week: Study Says DVRs, Ads Can Co-Exist (television)
Study Says DVRs, Ads Can Co-Exist
InsightExpress-MediaPost Report: Fast-Forwarding Makes Viewers More
Satisfied With Total TV Experience
By Joe Mandese
Special to TelevisionWeek
For several years, Madison Avenue has been consumed by the negative impact
digital video recorders might have on how, when and whether TV viewers watch
TV commercials, but relatively little attention has been paid to the
potential upside of DVRs as an advertising medium.
For example, little is known about whether people use DVRs to record, pause
or replay TV commercials, as opposed to using the devices to fast-forward
though or zap them altogether. While those incidences likely are few and far
between in the average TV viewing experience, anecdotal evidence suggests
that when viewers are exposed to compelling or surprising ad campaigns, such
as during the Super Bowl, they do pause and replay commercials.
But the ad industry doesn't know how often, or even what the disposition of
consumers is when they are proactively using a DVR to watch TV commercials,
as opposed to being passively exposed to TV ads.
That supposition is at the heart of a surprising new report that suggests
DVRs actually represent a net gain in TV advertising exposures for Madison
Avenue, not a detraction, as many believe. The report, "Demystifying Digital
Video Recorders," suggests that one of the most commonly used features used
during advertising breaks-fast-forwarding-is actually "recapturing" TV
viewers who otherwise would simply change the channel when commercials they
don't want to watch come on.
As such, the report, jointly published by InsightExpress and MediaPost,
concludes that DVRs actually enhance the overall TV viewing experience,
including advertising, making viewers far more "satisfied" with television,
including its advertising.
Most surprising of all, the findings suggest that in many ways, DVR users
are actually more satisfied with TV advertising than are non-DVR users.
While InsightExpress's surveys indicated the two consumer groups were
virtually identical in most of their attitudes toward TV advertising, DVR
users were significantly less irritated by TV commercials (43 percent of DVR
owners versus 49 percent of non-DVR households), and were more inclined to
find TV commercials "informative" (13 percent versus 9 percent among non-DVR
Lee Smith, president and chief operating officer of InsightExpress, said the
results likely reflect the fact that DVR users generally feel they have more
control over TV advertising and therefore feel the ads are less of an
imposition on their TV viewing experience. A series of studies conducted by
InsightExpress and media agency Media Kitchen that were incorporated into
the report bear that out as well. That research indicates advertisers and
agencies would be better served by embracing consumer control technologies
such as DVRs or video on demand than by trying to stop or cir***vent their
"Remote controls have been around long before DVRs," says Paul Woolmington,
president and CEO of Media Kitchen. And in some ways, he said, they
represent a greater threat than DVRs, because if a TV viewer doesn't like
the commercials he sees in a non-DVR environment, his only recourse is to
turn the channel.
Mr. Woolmington said agencies should focus on how to use consumer control
technologies to enhance the TV advertising experience. One early example of
the strategy developed by Mr. Woolmington concerned a TV ad he helped
develop for Hellmann's mayonnaise that was designed to be played using the
slow-motion features of a VCR. The spot features a recipe demonstration for
Hellmann's that was digitally compressed. When viewed at regular speed, the
spot appeared as if in fast-forward motion, but when played in slow-motion
it ran at normal speed and with normal audio for 2½ minutes, all for the
price of a 30-second ad.
Mr. Woolmington said he is exploring how to extend such notions into the DVR
world, especially how to utilize fast-forwarding as an advertising
enhancement, not a detraction. At the very least, he wants to preserve the
communication value of TV commercials despite consumers' fast-forwarding
through them. One notion is to create ads that can double as a normal-speed
six-second spot in the six seconds it takes to fast-forward through the
average 30-second commercial.
Meanwhile, the InsightExpress research suggests that even conventional spots
can hold a substantial amount of their communication value while being
Ad Skippers Notice Ads
The study found that most fast-forwarders notice TV commercials either
"always" (15 percent) or "sometimes" (52 percent) while zipping through the
When other elements are factored into the mix, such as the greater amount of
time DVR households spend watching TV, their higher satisfaction and
attentiveness levels, the report concludes that DVRs actually recapture ad
exposures or opportunities to see ads that would otherwise be lost to
channel surfing in a non-DVR environment.
Mitch Oscar, executive VP of Carat Digital and the executive who is managing
the Association of National Advertisers' enhanced television initiative,
says this makes intuitive sense, even if there hasn't been much hard
research to back it up.
"If people are fast-forwarding through commercials, then they are
concentrating on them, particularly on when a program might start," he said.
"Therefore they're looking at your video. They might not be seeing every
frame of it, but they have a sense that a brand or a commercial is
running.And if they're interested enough in what they see, they will stop,
rewind and play it back."
Mr. Oscar says this type of consumer behavior-at least as it pertains to a
DVR household-is still relatively new, and agencies and researchers still
haven't gotten the full implication of it.
Mr. Oscar thinks more research needs to be done on this phenomenon, and he
noted that fast-forwarding's impact on commercial exposure ultimately will
depend on the next generation of DVRs.
"It all depends on how fast they fast-forward. If they match the speed of
current TiVo systems, then the advertiser has the same chance of having
their ads viewed as they do right now," he predicted. "If they're faster,
like Microsoft's old UltimateTV system, which fast-forwarded at 300 frames
per second, it could be a real problem." #