A majority of TV viewers claim to prefer free ad-supported TV over paid models, but the most mentioned advantages of subscription video-on-demand services relate to the relative absence of commercials, according to a Hub Entertainment Research study [download page]. Still, consumers are perceiving an increase in commercials over the past year, not only on live TV.
Despite some efforts to reduce ad loads on traditional TV, 52% of respondents to the survey said they’ve noticed more commercials on live TV in the past year, compared to just 4% saying they’ve noticed fewer ads. While the difference was not quite as stark on other platforms, respondents were likewise more likely to say they’ve noticed more than less ads on Hulu, network sites and apps, MVPD sites and apps, and video-on-demand (VOD).
With consumers expecting fewer ads online than on TV, the study looked at various factors that could generate more attention to ads in online TV content. The survey used a MaxDiff methodology, which measures preference for certain options (using a best or worst choice) rather than ratings of those options. There were 21 items tested: the higher the score, the greater the impact on viewer attention.
The results show that ad load is a critical factor: having just one ad per break emerged as having a far greater impact (score of 9.3) than repeated ads in the show (1.0).
Two more themes have an impact on viewer attention, the first of those being more relevant ads. Attributes including ads more relevant to the viewers’ interests (8.1), fewer but more targeted ads (7.1) and choosing product categories before viewing (5.9) all returned higher-than-average results.
The second theme was greater control over the advertising experience. Of those attributes, the most impactful was earning points for watching ads (8.2), followed by earning promo codes for watching ads (7.3). The display of an ad countdown clock (5.9) also had above-average impact on viewer attention, per the respondents.
Returning to viewers’ perceptions of ads overall, the study notes that:
- About 2 in 3 at least sometimes delay starting live viewing so they skip through ads (a 2014 survey found a slight majority recording live TV in order to be able to skip ads);
- More than 8 in 10 fast-forward through ads most or every time on their DVR; and
- Almost half (45%) say that it’s a major frustration when fast-forward is disabled.
Despite TV ad avoidance, consumers say they’re more likely to be influenced to make a purchase by TV ads than by any other paid medium, according to MarketingCharts’ recently-released study, Advertising Channels With the Largest Purchase Influence on Consumers.
About the Data: The Hub Entertainment Research data is based on a survey of 1,206 consumers aged 16-74 who watch at least 5 hours of TV per week and have broadband at home. The survey was balanced to the U.S. Census and conducted in August 2016.