Take a moment to think about how many commercials you've seen throughout your life. Now try to quantify that number in terms of time spent watching them. I'm sure that number would be quite high unless you're 4 years old, in which case you probably aren't reading this. From a consumer perspective we develop a love-hate relationship with them and for a little while viewers of web content have enjoyed much less exposure and generally more relevantly targeted ads. This could all come to a swift end shortly due to some revealing research.
Hit the break to find out what the findings are.
Turner Broadcasting recently conducted a study to gather information on a pivotal issue concerning how much ad exposure online views are willing to endure compared to traditional TV viewers. Which, according to Turner Broadcasting's chief research officer, Jack Wakshlaf, "It’s a million-dollar question."
The test consisted of redirecting three sets of anonymous visitors to their tnt.tv and tbs.com websites to a special video player. After which they were subjected to programming with varying amounts of ad time for each program. The first level consisted of about 1 minute of ads per show. The 2nd level was 8-10 minutes and the 3rd level was 16-20 minutes per program. The results are that on average viewers watched 40% of the episode, this includes ads, for the 1st level. Concerning the 2nd level, the average only dropped 3% to 37% and 49% of the program was watched at the 3rd level of ad exposure.
In the end, Wakshlag's conclusion is that viewers watched the same amount of the entire program regardless of the ad time. This is because online TV viewers often channel surf and do not watch entire episodes. He also concluded that the commercial retention rate was higher from online TV than traditional TV.
I'm not sure the results are as conclusive as Wakshlag might think however. One of the problems with the test they performed is consistency. There were different programs viewed by the participants for different levels of ad exposure. Those exposed to levels 1 and 2 watched shows like Meet the Browns while level 3 viewers watched shows like Memphis Beat. The placement of ads is also critical. If the ads shown to each viewer were different for some viewers then the results might be skewed either way depending on how well the ads were placed given the random sample. I understand they were probably just trying to be as objective as possible while performing the test but it's really difficult to gage the results when you change so many variables at one time. There is also the competing view championed by Hulu that less ads, more effectively targeted is a better strategy for advertisers.