Viewers Tolerant of Online TV Ads

April 5, 2010

Online TV viewers will accept up to 75% more advertising per hour than is currently programmed, according to a recent survey by comScore.

Online TV Ads Have Larger ‘Sweet Spot’
In order to determine viewer receptivity to advertising when watching TV shows online, survey respondents were asked questions regarding their advertising tolerance. The questions were designed to assess the levels of advertising (based on one minute increments from 0-15 minutes) viewers would tolerate when watching one hour of TV programming on the internet.

Results indicate that online advertising’s “sweet spot” is between six and seven minutes per hour, 50-75% higher than the approximately four minutes per hour that is currently consumed by ads delivered online as part of TV content.

“As cross-platform TV viewing becomes more widely adopted, it is important to understand the driving forces behind this shift in consumer behavior if we are to effectively monetize this emerging medium,” said Tania Yuki, comScore director of online video and cross-platform product.

“While some analysts have suggested that the shift to online video reflects a consumer desire to view fewer ads, our research suggests that in many cases online TV viewers actually have a higher tolerance for advertising messages than they are currently receiving,” Yuki said. “This finding, of course, suggests there is advertising revenue being left on the table and that media companies have not yet extracted full value out of the online medium.”

Online Offers More Convenience, Traditional Offers More Quality
A majority of cross-platform TV viewers turn to online TV for convenience and traditional TV for quality, according to survey results. Seventy-five percent of cross-platform viewers say online TV is better for watching a show whenever they want, and 74% say it’s better for watching a show on their own time.

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Another 70% say online TV is better for stopping and playing a show whenever they want, 67% say there is less interference from commercials, and 61% say there is more overall convenience. When asked specifically why they watched TV episodes online, the most frequently cited reason among cross-platform viewers was that they had missed an episode on TV (71%), followed by convenience (57%) and fewer ads (38%).

However, traditional TV is seen as providing a higher quality viewing experience. This is reflected by percentages of cross-platform viewers who say traditional TV is better for picture quality (75%), sound quality (72%), viewing a show as soon as it’s released (69%), and overall viewing experience (68%).

Younger Viewers Shift Program Times
Time shifting of TV viewing is most prevalent among younger TV viewers, with only 35% of viewers age 18-24 indicating they watched episodes live, 42% saying they watched the programming at a different time within one week of the original air date, and 23% saying that they watched more than one week after the original air date. Twenty-five-to-34-year-olds exhibited fairly similar time-shifting behavior to 18-to-24-year-olds, while older age segments exhibited the least amount of time-shifting behavior.

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In addition, younger TV viewers are also more likely to watch TV across media, with 54% of cross-platform viewers being below the age of 35 compared to just 30% of TV-only viewers.

Video Viewing Grows across Screens
Americans are watching an increasing amount of video content on their TVs, DVRs, PCs and mobile phones, according to the Three Screens Report from The Nielsen Company.

Each week, on average, Americans watched roughly 35 hours of TV and two hours of timeshifted TV via a DVR in 2009. In addition, online video consumption rose 16% from 2008-2009, to an average of 22 minutes.

About the Survey: The study, based on a survey of more than 1,800 US internet users who watch originally scripted TV content, grouped viewers into three segments: TV-only viewers (65%), cross-platform viewers (29%) and online-only viewers (6%), to analyze differences in viewing of originally scripted TV programming.

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