DVRs Not Necessarily Ad-Killers

Commercials that travel at the speed of digital video recorders (DVR) [define] are quite possibly making an impact on viewers, according to a new report, “Demystifying Digital Video Recorders,” from InsightExpress and MediaPost, unveiled today at AD:TECH San Francisco 2004.

More than twice as many survey respondents said they always notice commercials while fast-forwarding than those who say they never notice (15 percent compared to 7 percent). This comes as good news for advertisers who are concerned that TV viewers will eliminate commercials with the push of a button.

“People are still getting exposure [to ads] but they’re doing what they want with it,” said Lee Smith, president and CEO of InsightExpress.

Smith added that even though viewers are fast-forwarding through commercials, there is still some recognition and they are more likely to watch a commercial they haven’t seen before. The survey found that 54 percent of DVR users have rewound or paused television commercials to better understand the advertised product and 37 percent would welcome the opportunity to request additional product information via their DVR.

“There is the desire to get more information [from advertisers] when it’s appropriate and relevant for them,” Smith said. “Consumers would love the opportunity to get ads targeted to them.”

Despite the optimism conveyed in the InsightExpress/MediaPost report, “skip commercials” was the DVR feature cited as most used by 83 percent of survey participants. “Record shows” was the only other feature that was more used at 88 percent.

Repetition was the chief complaint, as an overwhelming 70 percent of survey respondents reported that commercials were repeated too frequently. Smith said that DVR usage is going to force advertisers to change their model.

“We think it’s going to open up new opportunities for advertisers,” he said.

Advertisers that embrace this new opportunity will find a demographic that is predominantly male, under 35 years-old, and, surprisingly, with household incomes under $75,000 annually.

The report indicates most consumers aren’t normally focused on the commercials when they watch TV using the traditional method anyway. More than half admit to regularly channel surfing; roughly one-third leave the room during commercials; nearly one-quarter mute the commercials; and a whopping 80 percent are consuming other forms of media simultaneously or conducting other activities.

According to InsightExpress, consumers are using DVRs to enhance their viewing experience and to accommodate their busy schedules, reporting higher TV satisfaction rates and viewing time with the time-shifting devices.


Television Viewing Habits
Metric Non-DVR Users DVR Users
Mean hours of TV watched per week 19.2 23.9
Median hours of TV watched per week 15.0 16.0
Source: InsightExpress/MediaPost

Smith said respondents’ perceptions of network TV and their satisfaction rates went up because they had control. More than three in 10 respondents reported that they adopted DVRs to watch shows on their own schedules, and 73 percent of survey participants said that pausing live TV was among their most used DVR features.

The report was based on three surveys conducted online during January, February, and March, among 1,400 consumers, including 500 DVR owners. The studies were commissioned to determine the impact of DVRs and to understand consumer consumption, attitudes, and behaviors.

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