Relevance required to help viewers deal with increasing ad load | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Heavy ad loads hang high among viewers’ least liked acts of modern TV and has a strong impact on consumers’ perceptions of viewing experiences, but a study from Hub Entertainment Research is advising that ad targeting can be effective in curing the ad load blues.
HUb ads r4elevance 25Jan2022
Hub’s TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction study was conducted among 3,038 US consumers age 14-74, who watched at least 1 hour of TV per week. Data was collected in December 2021. The study explored TV consumers’ use of ad-supported and ad-free services and the factors that drive their decisions to use each. Among the key highlights of the study were that a heavy ad load not only leads viewers to say the number of ads during a show was unreasonable, but it also has a negative impact on their viewing satisfaction generally.

When TV viewers were asked about a recent experience watching a show on an ad-supported platform, the percentage rating the number of ads unreasonable increased from 25% among those estimating there were 5 or fewer ads (per 30 minutes) during the show to 36% among those estimating 6-10 ads. As many as 46% estimated over 11 ads.

More notably, when they were also asked to rate the overall experience of watching the show, all things considered (not just ads), positive ratings went from 44% among those estimating 5 or fewer ads to 41% among those estimating 6-10 ads and 33% among those estimating over 11 ads.

On a more positive note, the viewers who were most satisfied with the viewing experience were those who found the ads relevant, including 58% who gave a positive rating to the viewing experience among those who said the show had ads featuring products that match their interests. Just slightly less (55%) said ads seemed to based on products they’ve purchased or searched for, that is to say targeted ads.

Ask TV viewers’ response was more likely to be positive than negative when asked how they felt about having ads targeted to them based on information shared about them. Only 16% had a negative reaction to the idea of ads targeted based on their personal information, down 6 percentage points from June 2021. In contrast, 28% had a positive reaction to targeted ads, up 5 points from last summer. Yet the majority of consumers (56%) did not have a strong feeling one way or the other. Overall, the majority of consumers said they were willing to have a range of personal information shared with providers in order to have a more relevant ad experience.

Hub noted that the most striking example of ad relevance winning out over ad load could be seen among recent viewers of a show on the ad-supported tier of Discovery+. Half of the survey respondents who subscribed to the ad-supported version of the direct-to-consumer service said the platform tended to have more ads than other services, the highest percentage (by a significant margin) of any service Hub enquired about. Yet despite that, Discovery+ ranked first among its viewers for having the most reasonable ad load during a recent viewing (60%). In addition, Discovery+ viewers were the most likely to say they paid attention to all or most of the ads they saw during their recent show (39%).

Yet the general conclusion was that relevance was the answer when considering how a service with heavier-than-average ad loads could be considered most reasonable when it comes to number of ads and most likely to lead viewers to pay attention to ads.

“Ad-supported TV providers have been focused on finding ways to balance the needs of their two main constituents: advertisers (ensuring strong reach and frequency) and viewers (not bombarding them with insufferable ad loads),” said Peter Fondulas, Hub principal and co-author of the TV Advertising: Fact vs. Fiction study. “So far, the primary focus has been on finding the ad load sweet spot that both groups find reasonable. But this research—in particular, the findings for Discovery+ -- suggests that the key to overcoming ad load concerns is delivering spots that viewers clearly recognise as in line with their interests. And the vast majority of viewers are not opposed to sharing the kind of data that will allow that to happen.”