Verbal WOM Plays Key Role in Video-Watching Decisions

December 17, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Media & Entertainment | Social Media | Television

The ways in which people learn about and ultimately decide to watch video on TV or the internet are very similar – with verbal word of mouth (in-person conversations or phone calls) scoring well above social media as a regularly used source, and TV ads and search engines also playing major roles, according to a research report from Knowledge Networks.

The report, “How People Use Video Navigation,” explores how advancing technology and increasing viewer control are changing expectations about video viewing,? both online and on TV.

It found that TV ads are the most important source for discovering new programs and deciding what to watch on TV, with verbal word-of-mouth coming in second for discovery and third for decision making (behind interactive program guides).


Verbal word-of-mouth was also the top source for learning about and deciding to watch online videos; search engines were the second most-cited way of learning about online video, the research found.

Purposeful Viewing

The study also found that another similarity between viewers of TV and of streaming video is seen in the levels of “purposeful” viewing? – in which people go to watch with specific programs or content in mind. Among TV viewers, almost half (44%) say they usually turn the TV on with the intent to watch a specific program; among people who use streaming video to watch full-length TV episodes or movies, the proportion of purposeful viewing is even higher – about 56%.

In contrast, viewers of non-professional or amateur content using streaming video report much lower levels of purposeful viewing – just 22%.

“We see a variety of important, often untapped opportunities for leveraging the ways people learn about and decide to watch video,” said David Tice, VP and group account director of Knowledge Networks. “On TV, the interactive program guide remains largely underutilized for promotion, given its central role in viewing decisions. And, with online video, one sees the possibility of placing too much emphasis on social media sources, such as tweets from celebrities, as direct drivers of viewing. In fact, it is ‘in-person’ word of mouth and search – even TV ads or coverage – that show more influence in the online space.”About the report: The report explores the ways people discover and decide to watch video on TV, via streaming or downloaded video, and on mobile phones, using quantitative interviews with 601 KnowledgePanel members, ages 13 to 54. The report also includes an ethnographic component.

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