Web Interaction Drives Greater TV Viewership and Loyalty

People who engage with a TV show online before they see it on television are more likely to become loyal viewers of that program and encourage others to watch as well, according to a new study. The way viewers seek information about various program genres also could help advertisers assess ad strategy.

The “Engage and Entertain” study was conducted by Yahoo in partnership with digital ad agency Deep Focus. The idea was to ascertain what role the Internet played in television viewership at a time when DVRs and streaming video are changing how people consume media.

The data points to a high level of correlation between those who interact with a show online and those who become loyal viewers. It also reveals how viewers of different genres, be they reality, drama or comedy, differ in how they seek program information online.

The study’s primary finding is that 19 percent of those who sought information about a new show online before its premiere became regular viewers, a number that drops to 13 percent for those who sought information after the show had begun airing. For shows entering at least their second season, 70 percent of those who seek out information about the program prior to its season premiere are likely to become regular viewers; meanwhile, 39 percent seek information online after the season has begun.

The findings suggest not only that online activity greatly affects a viewer’s relationship with a TV show, but advertising dollars get more mileage if a consumer’s attention is grabbed prior to a show’s debut. The way viewers seek information about various types of programs also could help advertisers assess ad strategy.

For example, 68 percent of those who seek information on reality programming will do so immediately after the show has aired. According to the study, this is because reality viewers strive to become “experts” on programs and seek as much additional information as possible after watching them.

Viewers of dramas and comedies, however, want to be experts on the behind-the-scenes aspects of a show — the writers, directors, etc. Hence, they seek information more consistently. Slightly less than 55 percent of comedy and drama viewers will seek information before they watch a show; nearly the same portion of people do so after they’ve watched a program.

“The implications from an advertising perspective are when to advertise for what kinds of programming,” said Ian Schaefer, CEO of Deep Focus. “There are different times to make sure your content is available based on what genre you are offering.”

The Yahoo/Deep Focus study included a multi-month survey of over 2,000 TV viewers as well as focus group research.

A new white paper released lends credence to the idea that cross-platform strategies are more effective when seeking consumer attention. “Understanding The True Value of Multi-Platform Advertising,” produced by Integrated Media Measurement, found that consumers were more likely to purchase a DVD or watch a TV show after being exposed to ads on multiple platforms rather than television alone.

For example, consumers who saw TV ads for four cable shows had an average conversion rate of 4.35 percent; that rose to about 12 percent for those who saw ads on television plus at least one other platform.

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