Media Multitaskers More Likely to Watch, Respond to TV Ads

July 2, 2014

IABProsperInsights-TV-Ad-Viewing-Media-Multitaskers-July2014TV multitasking is on the increase, and some 82% of US adults at least occasionally go online while watching TV, per a recent IAB study [pdf]. How much of an adverse effect does that have on the influence of TV ads? Apparently none, according to the study, which actually finds that “media multitaskers” (those 43% who regularly go online while watching TV) are more likely than the average adult to regularly watch TV ads and be influenced by them.

Indeed, some 24% of media multitaskers said they regularly watch commercials when they air on TV, compared to 18% of adult respondents overall. Another 64% of multitaskers (and 65% of adults overall) watch them occasionally, such that 88% of media multitaskers profess to watching TV ads at least occasionally, compared to 83% of adults in general. (The study is based on a January 2014 survey for which a 2%-point difference is statistically significant at a 99% confidence level.)

Moreover, across each of 9 retail categories examined, media multitaskers were more likely than the average adult respondent to say that both broadcast and cable TV influences their purchases. The influence of broadcast and cable TV was particularly acute for electronics purchases.

TV also emerges as a significant trigger for online search: 34% of media multitaskers claim that cable TV triggers them to start an online search (compared to 28% of respondents on average), and 33% say the same about broadcast TV (versus 29% of respondents on average). In each case, TV proved more of a trigger than internet ads or email ads.

The study’s results bring to mind an IAB report released in 2012, which found that the more screens survey participants used in front of the TV, the more likely they were to be able to recall advertisers. That same study revealed that multi-screeners give TV the most attention, a finding supported by recent study results from TiVo.

Other Findings:

  • Media multitaskers are more likely than the average adult to engage in all identified online activities, including shopping, social networking, and viewing online video.
  • The top products researched online by media multitaskers prior to buying them in person are: electronics (54%); apparel (44%); shoes (32%); and appliances (31%).
  • Media multitaskers report being more likely to have their purchases influenced by social media and mobile than the general population.
  • Some 59% of media multitaskers at least occasionally watch online video pre-rolls, compared to the 88% who watch TV ads with that frequency.

About the Data: The study describes its methodology in part as follows:

“IAB conducted a custom analysis of syndicated Prosper Insight data to look at consumer and media behaviors of ‘Media Multitaskers’, or those who regularly go online while watching TV as compared to the general Adult 18 and over population in the US. Regularly is defined as “routinely, as a set pattern; occasionally means no set pattern, as mood suits.” The report is derived from the Media Behaviors & Influence (MBI) Study (Jan 2014) of 15,410 respondents surveyed online. The study has a margin of error of less than 1%, at a 99% confidence level. Two percentage points is statistically significant at 99% confidence level.

Sample Sizes:

  • Prosper Insights & Analytics Media Behaviors & Influence Annual Survey
  • 15,410 Adults 18+ representative of the general US population
  • 6,074 Media Multitaskers, Adults 18+ who regularly go online while watching TV

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