I got a DVR five or six years ago. I wasn’t exactly an early adopter, but I must say I love it. I record everything, often watching a program a mere 20 minutes after it starts to avoid the commercials. I know I’m not alone.
Don’t get me wrong. Good advertising I really like. But so much of it is bad – or stupid. The DVR lets me watch commercial-free if I want to.
Among DVR owners in Nielsen markets (37%), Nielsen recently reported that 40-50% of commercials are watched during playback, up from earlier estimates of 30-40%. (Source: MediaDailyNews, 8/5/10)
I’m not sure what to believe about this: Commercial viewership up among DVR owners? Really? Or did Nielsen change how they’re measuring things? One hypothesis I had was that more recent DVR adopters could be less sophisticated/less comfortable using the fast forward/jump feature on their remote controls. But Nielsen says that DVR playback is happening more among younger and higher-income viewers, so I can’t imagine my hypothesis is true.
While DVR viewership isn’t universal, these “facts” got me asking a few questions:
- Who’s not watching ads – consistently? Do they have any identifiable characteristics that we can plan around?
- What are the best, most effective ways to reach these ad-skippers in other media and/or via other ways on TV (e.g., product placement, sponsorships, etc.)?
- What defines “stopping power” in a TV ad today, and how is it measured, particularly among DVR viewers? I would think that the first and last ads in a pod would have the highest viewership, yet is this reflected in the numbers agencies are getting to calculate impressions? Related to this, for researchers/account planners, is there a method out there for testing ads in a program-embedded clutter and letting people skip as they would at home, to get at stopping power and ad effectiveness? Plus, can ads be tested at fast-forward speed to assess their stopping power?
- What impact is all this having on brand awareness or brand image? Have any tracking studies been done among ad-skippers vs. those who fast-forward through ads vs. ad-watchers to see what impact ad viewing behavior has on these critical brand measures?
As I write these questions from my logical left brain, I have to remind myself that how we take in information isn’t very well understood. I might not “know” the latest musical phenom, but I always seem to have heard the tune before I learn the artist’s name or see their face – and this is without kids at home. What goes on around us seems to sink in and have an impact.
I don’t know the answers to the questions above, and maybe I’ll dig around to learn a bit more. Yet it’s clear that whether TV ads are skipped or seen, consumers continue to form impressions of brands. And since no matter how hard we try, not everything that impacts them will be known or measurable, I feel more strongly than ever that having consistent brand values which shine in all we do – and being present where our target lives – is the best foundation for the relationships we want to have with them.