Thanks to the glorious invention of television recording devices, like TiVo and DVR, boob tube connoisseurs can watch their favorite shows and fast-forward through all those pesky commercials (I'm looking at you, Geico). This is great news for everyone, except advertisers. As the popularity of DVR continues to grow, 21st century Mad Men are scrambling to come up with new ways to get people to pay attention to their ads. But a new study by a group of Boston College researchers shows that watching ads in fast-forward can still influence consumer behavior, if done in the right way.
The study was run by Professors S. Adam Brasel and James Gips of the Carrol School of Management at BC. They concluded that if the brand information (ie: the Pizza Hut logo or the Nike swoosh) is placed smack in the middle of the screen, viewers will not only see it, but remember it. In fact, they pay more attention to the screen than people who watch commercials at regular speed. They don't need audio and they don't need to see 95% of the frames (the number of frames lost when watching in fast-forward).
On the other hand, brand placement anywhere outside the center of the screen will be completely lost on fast-forwarding viewers and make no impact on their future buying decisions. In a 30-second spot played at regular speed, visual cues and motion attract viewers' attention to brand images along the periphery of the screen. When cruising through commercials with TiVo or DVR, the viewer sees about 1 out of every 24 frames and the brand imaging get less than one third of a second of view time. Without the audio and visual cues to direct them, these viewers focus on the center of the screen only.
"Everybody is saying that TV advertising is doomed – TiVo has broken it and DVR will kill it," said Brasel. "But it's not like the advertising disappears when you use TiVo. We wanted to find out what happens when you fast-forward through these ads." As a test, Brasel and Gips created two commercials using centered images for two different British candy bars. One was heavily branded and the other was lightly branded. After viewing the ads, subjects were invited to choose one of the two chocolate bars. They chose the heavily branded bar twice as often as the lightly branded bar. "We created a massive shift in behavior from a commercial lasting just over one second," said Brasel. "It's clear that just because an ad is being fast-forwarded, doesn't mean it is a wasted ad."
This is no death knell for ads, just a siren call to adapt. But does this mean those of us without fast-forwarding technology will have to suffer through ads with no captivating visuals or clever banter? Ads solely concerned with in-your-face brand images? Ads more devoid of intelligence than they already are? And the most worrisome thought of all: What will happen to that loveable gecko for Geico?
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Nice story! Not so keen on the tucked jeans and guy-liner, though.
TV ads will never go away coz that's where most of the revenue or income for your local "free" tv operator comes from. So if you're sick of ads then watch a DVD or try cable, but now we "pay" for the DVD rental/purchase or for the cable TV subscription. It's funny but even in Cable TV, there are still some adverts on some channels.
And, advertising is really a powerful marketing tool... coz if it weren't then you wouldn't see companies placing ads especially during prime time or sports championships events. Heck, even during sports games there are lots of ways that they insert ads, just watch a soccer game and you could see the jerseys of the players are brand/company names that are their major sponsors.
That in itself is advertising and that hopefully creates brand awareness and brand recall and will factor in the consumers' mind in buying/patronizing. Although, if their product or service really sucks then they could spend all of their operating expenses in advertising but sadly, it wouldn't help or would it?!
Wait let me use this comment for advertising - hahaha... nope, was just kidding PopSci.... (^_^)
Nice superficial observation Megan, was this article about something else besides an iStock photo though?
I love fast forwarding through commercials, I'll never go back! ;-) I'm way more bothered by the fact that commercials like to TURN THEIR VOLUME ALL THE WAY UP though. It's annoying to always have to turn it down or mute it when they come on if I'm not watching something recorded. It's wrong and should be illegal.... I'll embrace the advertising when they stop yelling at me, until then I'll record everything I watch and come back to it later. I sorta thought about what this article talks about before, so I don't even look at the screen when its fast forwarding, I let it go past them and into the show, then I'll just rewind it a little, and voila - commercial break free tv!
Commercials as we know them will eventually go away and be replaced by a system of highly personalized advertising. Want to watch Lost? Well then you can watch an unskippable ad tailored specifically to your previous buying habits, or skip that for a small fee added to your bill. It's just a matter of updating the dvrs. Privacy advocates will freak, but it'll be much less annoying in the long run. All our info is already in databases anyways, we might as well get some benefit out of it. I know I'd rather see ads for graphics software rather than maxi pads and Viagra.