Study Gives Web Video Ads High Branding Marks, but Repetition Detracts

As large TV broadcasters like Viacom, NBC and NewsCorp get serious about presenting ad-supported content online, a new MillwardBrown study could entice advertisers to spend more on Web video advertising. Viewers of spots played during TV programming online have higher brand awareness and are less distracted than their on-air TV and DVR viewing counterparts. But if advertisers don’t stop running the same spots over and over, the value of online video advertising could be diluted.

The Web offers advertisers less cluttered ad space and access to more attentive users, boosting brand impact compared to on-air television and DVR ads, the “CTV-1” study found.

The study compared reactions of viewers to 30-second ads shown during network shows viewed on television, DVR and online. While TV and DVR viewing resulted in 54 percent brand awareness among the ad watchers, the survey found online viewing led to 82 percent brand awareness. Ads placed online drove even higher brand recall: 18 and 19 percent for TV and DVR viewing, respectively, versus 77 percent for online viewing. In addition, while around 70 percent of TV and DVR ad viewers linked the correct brand to a commercial, 93 percent did so if they watched the ads online.

“We expected differences, without a doubt, but we didn’t expect them to be so large,” said Mike Ripka, VP of MillwardBrown’s futures group.

The boost in brand recall and awareness driven by online viewing could be connected to the distraction level of study participants when viewing different media. According to the study, 41 percent of ad viewers were doing something else while watching on television or DVR, though 32 percent were doing something else during Web viewing. In addition, 46 percent of online viewers paid attention to the ads, compared to 30 percent of TV watchers and 21 percent of DVR watchers. Sixty percent of DVR watchers fast-forwarded through the ads.

“Not only were they less distracted, they were actively paying attention,” said Ripka. “You know it’s 30 seconds and the show is going to start right back up, so why not pay attention?”

Other typical commercial-time activities were also reduced during both online and DVR viewing. Twenty-four percent of TV viewers talked to someone in the room while ads played; while 8 percent of DVR viewers and 3 percent of online watchers did so. DVR and Web watchers were also more in sync when measuring how many left the room during ads. Compared with 18 percent of TV watchers, 4 percent of DVR viewers and 6 percent of Web viewers left the room during the commercials.

The CTV-1 study is part of MillwardBrown’s efforts focusing on consumer-controlled television and video content. Agencies including Digitas and Mediaedge:cia, networks such as ABC, NBC, and FOX and advertisers in the Quick Service Restaurant, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Financial Services categories partnered for the study. Over 3,000 people watched a specific TV show either on air, via a DVR or online and were surveyed afterwards.

Despite the Web’s apparent superiority when it comes to brand impact and attentiveness, ad burnout was a drawback. Fifteen percent of TV viewers and 19 percent of DVR viewers said they grew “tired” of seeing the ads, while 28 percent of online viewers said so. According to the study, “Typical viewing experience online included multiple exposures to the ad.”

This reflects user experiences with TV programming on the Web today, said Ripka, who told ClickZ News, “That’s definitely going to have to change.” He continued, “Advertisers are really going to have to think about that as they’re creating creative for television.”

Ripka expects “a lot of shifts” in video advertising as a result of changing viewing habits as more people watch TV shows online. “Now there’s finally starting to be a realization for a mass audience, and as a result, I think we’re going to see viewing behaviors change,” he said.

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