Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DVRS and TV advertising

Nearly one-third of American voters say they didn’t watch “live” TV in the last week.

We’re not talking about the broadcasting of live events. We’re talking about TV programming as it is aired by the various networks.

In other words, 31 percent of voters surveyed in recent research said they essentially watch all their TV from a digital video recorder at a time of their choosing instead of when the shows are originally broadcast. If you make the logical assumption that this means most of these folks aren’t watching the commercials, you’d be right.

Eighty-eight percent of DVR owners say they skip commercials all or at least three-quarters of the time. Another 7 percent say it’s about half the time. That’s a total of 95 percent of DVR owners. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed own a DVR, which is how you get to a total of 31 percent who basically do all their TV watching from a digital recorder.

It gets worse. People between 18 and 44 years of age spend more time watching video content via DVRs, DVDs, computers, live streaming or mobile devices (11.7 hours a week) than they do watching “live” TV (6.5 hours). People of all ages say they are watching less live TV this year than last year.

The purpose of the survey was to help political parties and candidates decide how to reach voters with their message.

"People live very complex lives with media coming to them from many sources, and the big take-away here is that advertisers need to communicate in any way they can to the audience that matters to them," Matt Rosenberg, vice president of Internet marketing company SAY Media, told National Public Radio.

TV ads – particularly political ones – aren’t going away soon. For one thing, people don’t necessarily need to see that ad on live TV to eventually hear its message. Particularly nasty or compelling ads end up on YouTube and elsewhere, so they are seen one way or the other.

"It is one of the chief things that reporters love to cover, which is the television ad war," said Kenneth Goldstein, head of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, told NPR. "So you get an added buzz after that."

Of course, we ink-stained wretches in the print/online business aren’t above wondering out loud how results like this translate to the broader TV-viewing audience. Are local audiences tuning out TV commercials as much as we think?

It’s hard to say for certain, but the logical conclusion is that commercials on live TV are not as valuable as they were even five years ago. It’s another example of how the fragmentation of the media is changing the whole playing field.

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