After working for years in media research related to TV advertising, there has always been one question that I am asked about on a regular basis.
"How are Digital Video Recorders (DVR) affecting commercials?"
It's a very legitimate question, as we know, much of the talk revolving DVR is the ability to skip through the commercials.
I've helped my teams with many objections such as:
"Nobody sees my commercial because they are skipping through it."
"People are not watching the program live anymore so how is my commercial going to be relavent?
"Viewers don't flip through channels anymore, they simply look at the guide."
These are all great questions but after a few years of watching DVR come to fruition, It's effect on the normal 30 second commercial will not be the weapon of media mass destruction many think it will be.
In a survey done by Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, 62% of those surveyed said they had used DVR technology at some point.
Scarborough tells us that Louisville falls right in line at 63%
That is a high percentage and it will continue to grow, but in that same survey, many said that if they didn't have DVR, they probably wouldn't even be watching. They would be surfing the internet or reading a book instead. There simply isn't time to analyze what and when a show is on.
So in one sense, it is keeping our viewers engaged in Television and Nielsen Research agrees. This year Nielsen announced that Americans are spending more time watching TV each day than they ever have, and DVR users watch more TV than those without.
So we have our audience, we just have to continue to make sure we can reach them to the best of our ability as technology continues to emerge.
...Here is a crazy thought. What if DVR actually helps advertisers?
Live is still the preferred method for viewing
- 76% of all viewing is still done "live" even when a DVR is in the home, with sports programming especially.
A break is not a bad thing
- Viewers like the breaks. The phone rings, they need a chip re-fill, or another beer. Taking a break during a show gives viewers the chance to catch their breath. Even in playback mode, 40% of commercials are still fully watched.
No flipping the channel or leaving the room.
- When in playback, viewers don't change the channel to watch other shows during the break or leave the room near to the extend that they used to. And people have been doing that for years!
The DVR user is a captive viewer
- When a viewer is fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVR, they are focused on the screen. We've all done it. You don't want to miss a portion of the show, so you watch closely to make sure you stop fast-forwarding at the right time. Companies are beginning to leave their name and logo on their commercial longer so it leaves an impression. If the creative is strong, viewers will regularly stop fast-forwarding and rewind to watch the commercial. I do it all the time.
DVR isn't the threat. It still records programming at specific times and has a focused viewer with their eyes on the screen during the commercial break. It is nothing that creativity and adaptation can't fix.
Now as for Internet based TV.........
Sources: Nielsen Media Research. "How DVRs are changing the landscape. 2010.