Watching TV shows and ads on a TV set is a different animal than watching them on digital screens, and for advertisers, the former might be best. At least that’s the conclusion of a recent study from the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) conducted by Hub Entertainment Research.
The study recruited 1,968 consumers aged 16-54 and had them watch one of five select shows on a single platform (e.g. TV, tablet, etc.), with the content and ads identical across the various platforms. Participants were then asked to rate their level of enjoyment, attention and emotional response, in addition to answering questions regarding their recall of the show and related ads.
Viewers that watched the show on TV were the most able to recall at least half of the advertisers, with 62% being able to do so. Those watching on digital platforms showed similar rates of ad recall, with tablet (47%) viewers edging those on smartphones (46%) and computers (45%).
The results bring to mind a newly-released study from MarketingCharts, in which surveyed adults were far more likely to recall noticing an advertiser in the prior week while watching TV (53.3%) than during an online video (15.3%). Some of that discrepancy could be explained by differing degrees of reach, as shown in the analysis, but the results still suggest a higher recall and purchase influence (even taking into account frequency of ad exposure) for TV over digital video.
Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that a previous study from YuMe found that the specific device was less important in determining ad recall than other factors including location and mood. As for devices? Smartphones topped the list for recall in that study…
Returning to the CRE study, the results also show TV ahead for attentiveness, with 29% of viewers rating TV a top-3 box score on a 10-point scale for attentiveness, ahead of smartphones (23%), computers (20%) and tablets (17%).
Meanwhile, program enjoyment was highest for smartphone viewers, while overall enjoyment of the experience was highest among TV viewers. As the researchers note, “It appears that in the world of ad engagement and recall, size really does matter.” Even so, the researchers caution that “there’s nothing inherent in the device itself that makes [viewers] less likely to pay attention to ads. The more likely culprit for the lower ad engagement on smaller screens is an ad delivery approach that doesn’t align well with the expectations, and viewing situations, of consumers watching on mobile devices.”
Finally, there were two other key points that bear mentioning. The first is that only a small fraction of multitasking behavior (7-11%) during advertising was related to the brands featured in the ads. (This follows a long line of research indicating that multitasking is rarely related to the program being viewed.) The second, related (excuse the pun) point, is that multitasking did not negatively impact the show (plot recall), but it did negatively impact ad sponsor recall. That’s an interesting finding in light of earlier research (admittedly, from a long time back) which found that multi-screening actually increased brand associations. At the time, that report said that this may be because people who have their second devices during commercial breaks are less likely to channel surf or skip the commercial break, leaving them aware, at some level, of the brands on the screen.
About the Data: The study describes its methodology as follows:
“Hub Entertainment Research recruited a nationwide sample of persons 16-54. Respondents watched one show on one targeted platform; show content and ads were identical across all four types of platforms. 1,968 people completed a 15-minute online post-viewing survey measuring levels of enjoyment, attention and emotional response, as well as show and ad recall utilizing questions provided by Nielsen Brand Effect. The sample was weighted for show, age and gender. Shows viewed were ‘Bones,’ ‘Family Guy,’ ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ ‘Survivor’ and ‘Family Feud.'”