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After following a link provided on ADM by Clayton Fowlie at AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com/video-advertising-recall-2x-higher-t... I found the research and reporting provided by both YuMe and IPG Media Lab to be fascinating and full of insights relevant to automotive marketing.
Yume and IPG Media Lab recently released an interesting study regarding how viewers engage with online video ads differently than they do with television ads. To draw their conclusions, they took measurements of facial expressions, eye movement and placement and biometrics to determine the interaction and engagement levels of both TV and online video... and the winner is...
First thing first: the what, why, and how. They set out to answer three major questions in their research:
It seems that these guys really got it because their basic assumptions included the fact that a controlled environment adds bias to the behavior. Ad avoidance is normal; an ad on-screen doesn't mean a view. How people watch is as important (or more) than what.
Now this was a very limited study, there were only 48 participants who were chosen based on demographic diversity and their viewing of online and traditional TV.
They they showed them an hour of video and did facial tracking analysis and some biometric analysis. That's as technical as Christophor Rick will get for you. Let's get to the results!
It seems that short attention spans and instant gratification needs have teamed up in Americans to show that we can't just watch most shows for their entire length. Or maybe the content of the shows just isn't totally engrossing and so we fill the attention gap with other media. Our mobile phones are the biggest distraction in regards to ad avoidance with 60.4% of subjects using it and DVRs play a big part of that as well with 45.8% using that. Having a laptop in the room is also a major distraction for TV viewers.
For online media, the phone still reigns supreme but surprisingly, 27% of the subjects had no distractions while online. One might say that online video content is far more engaging, or it could have been a fluke (remember, only 48 subjects in the test).
Using a DVR often brought attention levels up, but that was mainly to actively avoid commercials by skipping over them.
Overall, online ad retention and recall were far higher for online than they were for TV. This is mostly because of the DVR-memory gap effect (my term) where people are actively avoiding ads with the DVR, after all, that's half the reason to use one right?
Catch programs you might miss and skip the ads...
This graph is really quite strange if you think about it and shows that DVR memory gap effect. For TV the unremembered ads is increased by the DVR and yet, unaided ad recall is about the same level while aided ad recall is lower than both. It almost seems counter-intuitive. Perhaps what's happening is that people are actually seeing the ad images while DVR ad-skipping and because they weren't completely bored, as they didn't have to sit through the whole ad, they remembered a single frame with branding on it which flashed by as they were fast forwarding.
That could be something really interesting to investigate more thoroughly. I've noticed a lot of remotes don't have ad-skip buttons so that means if you're actively ad-skipping you're going to push the FF button until you see a frame of the show you're watching and then hit play.
What if car dealers and automotive advertisers were to know exactly how many frames were generally skipped, how often a frame showed up on screen and how often a viewer stopped short? Those would then be the ideal places to stick big, branded, static images because then those frames would be seen, even somewhat passively, by the viewers and could be far more effective than fancy live-action ads which don't show the brand much of the time.
This might be the new way to start designing ads for TV.
For the online video crowd, i.e. us, this is far easier to deal with. Anytime a video is fast-forwarded over an ad or where an ad would be placed, the ad simply plays when the viewer stops scrubbing or presses play. We've seen this on places like Hulu, who actually show you where the ad will be. Since Hulu is giving us the content free, we don't even bother skipping the ads (see how tolerant the author can be sometimes).
Here are the big results from the survey if you ask Christophor Rick:
online ad recall was twice as high as TV ad recall, both aided and unaided. Check out the chart below.
Perhaps that's the anti-DVR effect. You generally can't get past the ads online whether you're scrubbing or fast forwarding, so it means you'll see them more often.
However, Christophor Rick thinks that the ads also need to still maintain both a short length (15 seconds) or be entertaining and not too frequent.
Because the other thing this research shows is just how easy we, as online video viewers, might simply start multi-tasking far more and mentally blocking out the ads. So advertisers...be warned.
YuMe teamed with IPG Media Lab to do an extremely interesting study on ad effectiveness which included biometric tracking for emotional response, attention. With bio-feedback and eye-tracking, the author believes it might be a one of a kind study for online advertising, plus, Christophor Rick is a science nerd of Peter Parker proportions, so he was totally excited to dive into it!
So all that fancy schmancy technology they used should have given some pretty interesting insight into what it is people are doing, how they're consuming, how they react and how they look at online advertising. But, as with all studies, Christophor Rick first wanted readers to see how they collected the data, so here it is.
The research was conducted in-house at IPG: In-Lab Test Across 4 Screens: Connected TV, Linear TV, Mobile, PC. It included adults 18+, familiar with at least one of the screens and they intentionally recruited tourists (n=147). It was done 5/9/2012 – 5/14/2012. The participants were assigned to screens, ads and content types by a survey which indicated which they owned/used. Participants watched pre-recorded videos on designated screen(s), then answered follow-up survey about media. A final survey was given for unaided and aided recall and they were then re-exposed to an ad. Ad load/frequency was designed to match the typical viewer experience.
The study aimed at tracking three metrics: attention, excitement and recall. It utilized eye-tracking software from tobii and biometric bracelets from affectiva. Demographics are broken down below:
Now, if we use their n=147 and extrapolate out to the entire U.S. Population (roughly 313 million) the margin of error is pretty large, 8.08% and it's the same at 200 million. So remember that because I think it's a major flaw in the report.
An interesting bit of info that came out of their study was that ad recall on regular TV is fairly low, just 27%, while even on a connected TV it rises to 38%. I have to believe that it might be due to the potential for interaction? Viewers generally know that TV ads will be fairly static as in there's not going to be some sort of call-to-action that results in getting a store location, coupon, etc. Then again, the pool of participants in the connected TV portion of the study was much lower than the TV part, which could create some statistical anomalies.
TV does elicit higher than average attention and excitement levels even though ad recall is fairly low.
So while your ads on TV might create an immediate reaction in the viewers, it seems there's little lasting impact on them.
In terms of recall, PC topped both TVs and mobile, yet it seemed to Christophor Rick that tablets are conspicuous by their absence in the study. PC scored a 43% unaided video ad recall rate, but about the second lowest amount of excitement, at just 5% of total time, topping only mobile (4%). Linear TV managed 7% while connected TV got 8%. Clearly, 'excitement' isn't something associated with watching video. They must have been watching librarians catalog books or a dog show or something. Seriously, video is supposed to elicit emotion, but according to the study, it seems like their respondents were mostly sleeping through it all.
Since we don't know what they were tracking with the bracelets as "excitement" nor what the content was that the participants were watching, it's hard to judge what exactly this means. Has video viewing become a zombie-like activity? Are we simply lying back and letting the images and sounds wash over us without being affected by it? What kind of impact does it have on advertising effectiveness? They say that excitement and attention are high on TV, but then ad recall is quite low which doesn't bode well for advertising on TVs.
Perhaps it's just that ad blindness is more prevalent that suspected. When we look at their findings in regard to ad clutter, we see that it could be the cause of the low recall numbers on TV.
The lower ad times resulted in better unaided recall. Christophor Rick posed the question; if during the study, participants were allowed to wander off to the kitchen or bathroom during TV commercial breaks. That's really what they have become haven't they? Oh a commercial break, that's 3-5 minutes I've got time to make a sandwich, grab some chips or use the toilet...
It seems that being in the 8-10% range has a drastic positive impact on brand recall. Christophor Rick also suspects that it's the difference between a couple short ads versus a stack of longer ones. Traditionally, ads online have been in the 15-30 second range. He found that if he was watching Hulu, and the ad break says 60 seconds, he would just flip over to a second screen. If it's 15-30 seconds, he generally just ignored the ad as it played. Of course, there are really only 3 ads on Hulu any given day. Perhaps that another factor in the unaided recall, ads on Hulu are shown more repetitively than they are on TV. To the point of annoyance in fact for Christophor Rick. He is tired of seeing Geico ads, especially since he has been told their alleged 'ad tailor' that he doesn't even need insurance. He does not own a car in fact! Maybe it's the content of the ads that's helping recall? Then again, maybe not. Look at these results.
They say in the title "creative quality" but the results are based on ad likeability. We are not sure those are exactly the same thing. Additionally, the results aren't all that linear. Retail had quite low recall but quite high likeability. Auto had massive recall with a similar likeability, etc.
YuMe and IPG Media Lab summarized the findings as such:
Christophor Rick thinks that the assumptions used by Yume and IPG are shaky. The sample number was extremely low to begin with. They seem to not have taken factors into account like personal preference of content. In the results they show that Hip Hop generated above average attention but Syfy was well below average in attention and engagement. But were the viewers given a choice of what to watch? It's not stated anywhere in the report.
The researchers state that ad clutter created lower recall and attention, but there's no 'clutter' in linear TV. You've either got an ad showing or content showing. They say screen size doesn't matter, but then completely missed a size category in tablets. They also seem to state, in number 3, that you can do A/B testing with digital video and then transfer that creative to TV, but, that wouldn't always work, and we all know that.
Those are going to be different viewing audiences, with different expectations and different attention spans. Sure, there will be some overlap, but to blanket it all with that statement seems wrong to me. They then wrap it all up with:
"Connected TV is TV without the clutter—the benefits of attentiveness and emotion, with better chance for ad break-through..."
Yet there's probably more clutter on Connected TV than on regular TV. You've not only got linear ads running but you've also got display ads, in app ads, etc. What this report really seems to be to me, is a vehicle to push YuMe's connected TV platform and try to get advertisers to move more toward it.
The data seems skewed or at the very least, poorly analyzed, and the participant number is extremely low. The margin of error could be in the 8% range but I suspect it might be even as high as 10%. So while this might prove interesting to read, it definitely needs a large grain of salt to go along with it. I think we, as an industry, need to sit down and talk about data reporting.
Christophor Rick recommends that if the Yume and IPG researchers are going to use terms like "arousal" or "excitement" in relation to video advertising, then the terms and definitions need to clearly defined. The researchers also need to clearly define ad clutter, because he just doesn't see it applying to linear TV in general, yet in this study they did just that.
Christophor Rick remained unconvinced by the findings in this study, you can draw your own conclusion and ADM Professional Community Members can download the report here: YuMe White Paper - Connected TV.PDF
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Shown below are a couple of Infographics that showcase some of the more compelling data related to the use of Online Video Advertising...