We love these studies. Instead of trying to figure out a new advertising and revenue model now that DVRs are taking the world by storm, the TV industry is hooking people up to electrodes to try to prove that people notice TV ads even when they skip them!
We first started noting these studies last summer, when DVRs were still a novelty. Now, they’re going mainstream. (A third of the viewers of the “Heroes” premiere were “time-shifted,” apparently). So now the TV industry is redoubling its efforts to prove that, even though you think you’re just trying to get past those ads as fast as you can, you’re actually being influenced by them!
Next, we presume, will come the studies showing that not only do people notice the skipped ads, they are in fact just as influenced as they are by ads they actually watch.
And this means that you, the gullible advertiser, should not only keep spending millions of dollars producing beautiful TV ads with vivid sound, colours, actors, and stories…you should be eager to pay the same CPMs. Even though your ad is on screen for one-sixth of the time and isn’t shown with a clear picture or sound!
LiveScience: NBC’s “Heroes” remains a marketer’s delight after its third season premiere drew 10 million viewers. But the network worried about one glaring anomaly – almost a third of the show’s viewers use DVRs to record the program and possibly fast-forward through commercials.
Now a neuromarketing study finds that viewers aren’t zoning out, but actually pay attention to ads when hitting their fast-forward button.
“Our conclusion was that people don’t skip ads,” said Carl Marci, cofounder and CEO of Innerscope Research. “They’re just processing them differently.”
[Yes: They’re making sure they don’t rip right past them into the meat of the program.]
Innerscope recruited 100 study participants, including many fans of “Heroes,” and sat them down in a living room setting to watch a pilot episode of NBC’s science fiction drama “Journeyman” with the usual TV ads and network promos.
This wasn’t just free TV time, though. Viewers in the study wore a wireless, lightweight vest that indirectly measured their emotional state with biometrics such as:
- Skin conductance or skin sweat – a sign of emotional arousal
- Electrocardiography – capable of measuring heartbeats through a heart’s electrical activity
- Respiration bands – sensors stretched across the chest and stomach to gauge breathing rate
- Accelerometer – detects motion as viewers lean forward, back or side to side.
An eye-tracking device also recorded where viewers looked on or off the TV screen.
A total of 60 of the 100 viewers frequently used DVR during prime-time TV. They ended up in two groups, with one able to fast-forward at 3x normal speed and the other at 6x normal speed. The final study detailed in the International Journal of Advertising includes results from the control group and the 6x normal speed group.
Viewers who watched live better remembered ads a day later than viewers who used DVR to fast-forward through commercials at 6x normal speed. But the DVR group still recalled ads and recognised brands at twice the expected rate, given the fast-forwarding and the complete loss of sound from the commercials.
“People were in a hyper-alert state emotionally, because they don’t want to miss their show,” Marci noted.