Media Multi-Tasking: Can it Benefit Your Brand ?

July 12, 2010

How often have you watched TV while using your laptop? Have you ever used your PC while keeping an eye on the TV in the same room? If you’ve done either, you’re like an increasing number of consumers who are multi-tasking in the new media world.

Multi-Tasking Across TV & On-Line Media

In many previous posts, I’ve talked about how cross-platform media exposure works. More specifically, it’s becoming increasingly clear that TV plus On-Line exposure is more impactful than either individually. And the same “1+1=3” phenom is almost certainly true across other media combinations.

What’s next in cross-media understanding? One potential area is “simultaneous exposure,” or exposing consumers to two different media at the same time–like working on your laptop while you watch the latest episode of Two and a Half Men. In theory, this should have an even larger impact than the same message in multiple media platforms over time.

What We Know About Simultaneous Media Usage

With the advent of single source viewing measurement, the clouds are clearing and we now have a much better understanding of how consumers are using media across the 3 screens. And the reality sure isn’t “cord-cutting. ” From this viewing data, we know that:

  • ~40% of HH’s watch both TV and Internet at the same time at least once a month
  • Simultaneous viewing is highest among the oldest groups—35-49 year olds and 50+
  • Simultaneous viewership of TV and internet grew 25 minutes per week year over year

No Signs of Cord-Cutting: Simultaneous Viewership Grows

So, we increasingly see the convergence of TV and Web viewing–although there isn’t yet much evidence of people switching off their cable or satellite connections to switch on to web based TV. However, the viewing experience and TV/Web overlap is quite different depending on your starting point. For example:

  • Among TV viewers, 4% of people are also on their PC’s at any given time
  • 40% of Internet viewing is done while people are also watching TV

This means that there is a lot more clutter around when people are on their PC’s than when they are watching TV. It also means that when you advertise on-line, there’s a pretty good chance that your consumers are also watching TV. The question then, is this – can you take advantage of this dual TV/Web usage?

On-Line Advertising: Breaking Thru Ad Clutter

What TV and Web Content Are Consumers Watching Simultaneously?

An obvious thought here is that consumers are likely consuming like content across the screens at the same time. That is, if I’m watching American Idol on TV, then I’m probably also consuming American Idol content on-line—at the same time. This would certainly present unique opportunities for advertisers to leverage common cross-platform content and perhaps achieve even greater synergy across the mediums. So, what are people watching at the same time?



The answer, interestingly, is not what you might think. The reality is that consumer viewing behavior isn’t different at all due to simultaneous viewership. Said differently, consumers watch TV and On-Line in the same way–whether they are watching simultaneously or not. So, if I’m watching American Idol on TV, I’m most likely to be doing the same things I would normally do on-line—like checking e-mail, perusing Facebook, or watching YouTube videos—versus viewing American Idol related content on-line.

What Does This Mean for Marketers ?

Simultaneous cross-platform TV and Web viewership is increasing. A significant amount of on-line PC content is consumed with the traditional TV on at the same time. The mediums are becoming increasingly intertwined—but they are not producing parallel content consumption.

This means the following:

1. Advertising break-thru is more important than ever — Brands need to focus more than ever on outstanding creative that cuts thru the increasingly cluttered world of media. Consumers are more distracted than ever with media multi-tasking. Because of this, brands need to understand how engaged consumers are with programming; consumer attentiveness to programming, and the ads in those programs, is more important than ever.

2. There are more opportunities to drive simultaneous messaging — It’s true that consumers aren’t generally consuming common content as they use TV and the Web simultaneously. However, there’s still an interesting opportunity for brands to leverage simultaneous media usage across platforms. Think about the traditional TV mujlti-network “roadblock” applied across both TV and Web.

3. Digital creative needs to link more closely to its TV counterpart. The fact that 40% of PC based web content consumption is done with the TV on means that brands need to work harder to have their digital creative connect to and work in tandem with their TV advertising.

Consumer Insights to Media Insights

In my days as a Brand Manager, we worshipped at the alter of the great “consumer insight.” These insights were almost always about how, why and where consumers used, thought and felt about their brands.

Sitting here, working on this post on my laptop–and watching the TV out of the corner of my eye, it seems clear that in the future, a new kind of consumer insight will become increasingly important–media insights. And within the world of media insights, media multi-tasking is one of the more interesting areas to watch.

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Linear TV vs. On-Line Video Advertising — Which is More Effective?

April 5, 2010

Did You Know That:

  • On-line video ad spending grew +41% in 2009 — even during a down advertising year?
  • 72% of all internet users in the U.S. viewed on-line video last year?
  • More U.S. consumers watch video on the web than watch recorded TV on DVR’s?

All of this adds up to something very interesting: On-Line Video advertising is growing like a weed. Which raises another question: how does On-Line Video advertising work versus Linear TV advertising? 

On-Line Video Ads -- How Do They Compare to Linear TV Ads ?

My colleague David Kaplan of Nielsen IAG (disclosure: I work for Nielsen) partnered with Beth Uyenco, Global Research Director from Microsoft, to compare the effectiveness of Linear TV advertising and On-Line Video advertising in a recent presentation to the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). 

Research Approach — What Was Measured

Kaplan and Uyenco used Nielsen IAG’s U.S. on-line panel to measure TV and web video advertising data from November 2007 to May 2009, across 238 brands, 412 products, and 951 advertising executions.  For each ad, they measured the same effectiveness metrics: general recall, brand recall, message recall and likeability. Key measurement metrics were identical across the two mediums. 

On-Line Video Advertising -- Why Is It More Effective ?

Key Learnings — Linear TV vs. On-Line Video

1.  On-Line Video Outperformed Linear TV — Remember that this was an “apples-to-apples” comparison which compared the exact same creative execution across the two mediums. On-Line Video scored higher than Linear TV ads, on average, for: 

  • General Recall:        65% vs. 46%
  • Brand Recall:           50% vs. 28%
  • Message Recall:      39% vs. 21%
  • Likeability:               26% vs. 14%

2.  The On-Line Video Advantage was Largest Among 13-24 year olds — Among younger consumers, On-Line Video outperformed Linear TV advertising by greater than 2 to 1. On-Line Video’s advantage cut across all age groups, but was smallest among  50+ year olds. 

3.  Re-purposed TV Ads Outperformed Web Original and Flash Animation Ads — This was one of the most interesting learnings of the study. Even when controlling for prior TV ad exposure, a re-purposed TV ad shown on web video performed better than ads created specifically for the web. What does this say about Marketers understanding of digital creative ? 

4.  Linear TV + Web Video Ads are More Effective Than Linear TV Alone — Consumers exposed to ads in both mediums had higher general recall, brand recall, message recall and likeability than consumers exposed to TV alone. Once again, the data clearly shows the advantage of a cross-platform, integrated marketing approach. 

Why Is On-Line Video More Effective ?

There are a number of reasons which could explain On-Line Video ad superiority: 

  • Higher Program Engagement — As I’ve discussed in a previous blog post, Why Your Brand Should Understand TV Program Engagement, research shows that the more engaged consumers are in a program, the more likely they are to remember the ads in the program. Nielsen IAG research shows that on-line video program engagement is +13% higher than the broadcast TV primetime norm. So, this higher engagement naturally drives higher ad recall.
  • Inability to Skip Advertising — If you’ve watched any On-Line Video, you know that you can’t easily skip the ads. I think the impact of DVR ad skipping on ads is over-rated, but the lack of DVR like ad skipping has to benefit On-Line Video ads.
  • Reduced Ad Clutter — On-Line Video has about 1/2 the ads per hour than regular network TV. Various research studies over the years have shown that there is a small, but significant, impact of clutter on advertising effectiveness.
  • Presence of Companion Ads — On-Line Video ads are more likely to have companion ads in the same program. The presence of companion ads increases ad effectiveness versus a single exposure alone. However, even when they controlled for a single ad exposure, On-Line Video still significantly outperformed Linear TV.

Now, before you think about running out and building your next campaign around On-Line Video, consider this: the average consumer spends only2% of the time viewing web video as they do TV. The practical implication of this is that most brands can’t deliver a high reach media plan with web video alone. 

But the facts remain: On-Line Video ads are more effective than Linear TV ads, especially among 13-24 year olds. As well, On-Line Video ads work synergistically with TV, and perhaps best of all, TV ads can be re-purposed on-line and actually score better than creative that’s been created specifically for the on-line medium. 

Can It Last ?

Some of the factors contributing to On-Line Video’s advantage, such as higher program engagement scores, are unlikely to change anytime soon. But others, like reduced ad clutter, will probably erode over time. Content providers are not making much money with their content on-line, and some are experimenting with more ads per hour. So, any advantage due to less clutter is likely to be short-lived. 

Nonetheless, with it’s higher performance versus Linear TV and spectacular growth rates, I think it’s only a matter of time On-Line Video ads become a signficant part of every smart CMO’s marketing mix. 

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