NBC Study Says DVR Users Do Pay Attention To Ads

from the gee-whiz dept

For a few years now, advertisers and TV networks have been trying to figure out how to breathe new life into the standard 30-second TV ad — failing to realize in many cases that DVR users aren’t necessarily skipping over all the ads, just the bad ones. Networks have realized, in some cases, that they need to make ads and commercial breaks more entertaining, since they can no longer rely on people watching because they’re a captive audience. But they’re also looking at how to evolve the TV ad to more effectively reach DVR owners, whether by displaying static images, or embedding things that can only be seen when watched in slow motion. To that end, NBC has done some research into how people react to ads they watch in fast-forward, and found that users are just as engaged as when they’re watching programming content at normal speeds. Advertisers and the networks have expressed some surprise at this, as they’ve generally simply assumed that DVR owners weren’t paying attention at all to the ads — but it makes sense when you consider they’ve got to be watching to know when to stop fast-forwarding, as earlier studies have hinted. NBC is working on a second study to gain greater insight into what kinds of ads appeal the most to people watching in fast-forward, information it can then share with advertisers and their ad agencies. The conclusion that advertisers need to evolve their offerings should come as no surprise to anybody who’s been paying attention. This study just further underlines the fact that they need to do more to engage viewers, rather than just try to figure out more brute-force ways to force people to watch their ads.

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Comments on “NBC Study Says DVR Users Do Pay Attention To Ads”

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Nasty Old Geezer says:

I skip the room

I don’t use a DVR. I just leave the room, check e-mail, get a snack, go to the bathroom, whatever. I usually have plenty of time.

The advertisers have more to worry about from me than from the DVR users — as the study shows, they are more engaged with the ads than I am.

Ten consecutive 30 second spots — no way I am sitting thorugh that crap. As Jim pointed out, that often inclludes the SAME SPOT multiple times.

Haywood says:

SAME SPOT multiple times

That has to be one of the most effective torture methods known to man. Another thing they need to get a clue on is; there are some commercials that one showing is sufficient for a lifetime. There are others that could be re run. It could be broken down further, some are 2 timers, some are 3 timers, etc. My question is; do you really think something that causes agony in the viewers increases the value of your product or service?

Anonymous Coward says:


it took a “study” for them to realize that people do pay attention to ads? People skip ads for one of two reasons.

They either:
1. Don’t care about ads or don’t need the product/service they are offering. Like I’ll ever need Summer’s Eve and all those other feminine products.
2. They are sick of seeing the same ad 4 times in a single commercial break.

In either case people have to know when the ads start and end in order to notice when their show starts back up. I suppose the next study will show that people watch shows they like more than shows they dislike…

JustMatt says:

Increased volume during commercials is another rea

I love my DVR. It is a pain (really) when they crank up the volume as much as 30%. It wakes the baby, annoys the spouse in the next room, hurts my ears and is generally craptastic. I love being able to FFW through that crap, but I do pay attention to the pretty pictures.

You know, there *is* a way to get people (well, guys) to watch commercials. Boobies. Feature more of them and I, for one, would pay attention. It isn’t like I’m going to go out and buy your Coleman 3-in-1 electronic pocket stove with optional whitewalls and whitenoise generator in a hand-knit fabric cover, but at least I’ll pay attention.

Anonymous Coward says:

NBC does have that unique DVR commercial...

…for that new show coming out about chuck. i forget the name (cause it was sort of a teaser commercial) but it was made FOR people with dvr. it was like 20 seconds long and it was like a 5 minute commercial of random images and phrases just compressed into that 20 seconds. if you watched it at full speed, you had no idea what it was, but if you watched it frame by frame, each individual frame was actually a different picture. it started with “Do you know what chuck’s secret is? pay close attention” and then BAM… whole lot of images just flash in front of you and at the end, they just ask, “So, did you catch it?” I’ll admit, because I had a dvr, i *had* to watch to see what it was.

Too Late says:

Commercials Everywhere

Too Late… Ever watch normal Cable. Even on the actual programs now they have stupid ads for other shows that pop up on the bottom of the screen during the show that your trying to watch…. I predict that in 10 years, a 1 hour show will be only 15 minutes of actual show and 45 minutes of commercials.. Or at least that is what the industry will want.

I am done…

Just Matt says:

Onscreen Ads

Too Late is right on. I was watching a Brainiac last night (TiVo’d) and the action (an elevator crashing to the ground) was taking place at the bottom of the screen. Right when things started to happen Midnight Spank comes up with a fluttery annoying advert covering the bottom 5th of the screen. The irony here is that Brianiac is shown during the Midnight Spank programming block, that I was already watching.

Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Onscreen Ads

Onscreen ads are a horrible thing and I have to say that TNT is one of the worst. I TiVo Angel (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff) reruns on TNT (6-8am weekdays) so i can watch when I get home in the evening. A few days ago one of the episodes had a tribe of demons speaking in a language that had to be subtitled into English. Well if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve seen the episode before and understood the context of what they were saying I would have been totally lost. Its a sad day when you can’t even read subtitles becuase of onscreen ads.

And am I the only one that remembers back in the day when you watched a tv and during the closing credits you actually saw the credits and listened to the closing theme (which was usually the openeing theme) of the show? Nowadays when a show goes off all get is 75% of the screen (horizontal or vertical depending on the network) taken up by ads while the closing credits are squeezed into the other 25%. You know its a bad thing when networks go tthrough the trouble to annouce that a show is being played with “limited commercial interuption” or on a very rare (like Mew from Pokemon rare) occasion you get one that is “commercial free”.

BTR1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Onscreen Ads

The closing credit thing is interesting. The networks would love to just axe the credits altogether and use the time for ad-time, especially with movies, whose credits are much more lengthy. But according to union rules, if the episode or movie is aired, the credits must be shown. However, the rules apparently don’t specify *how* they must be shown or that they even be readable. So that’s why you now have the credits jammed up into a tiny window, scrolling by at lightning speed and so small they can’t possibly read while ads play over them. They’re abiding by the “letter of the law”, if not the spirit.

Already Has This Feature says:

My DVD Recorder

It is called “commercial skip” on my remote control. Press it an it jump 30-seconds forwards. No, it doesn’t fast-forwards through it….it skips…….

Thus when the first commercial starts, I press this button 4-7 times, in rapid succession…

So what is the big deal about DVR/Tivo’s doing it ?

These days, I record everything to DVD and then watch. That way, I can watch 3-40 minute shows/episodes in 2-hours vs. 3!

Beyond Comercials, err Beyond TV says:


I have been using a home built DVR for a number of months now. I too use my “skip 30 seconds forward” button like its going out of style. And it is for all the reasons mentioned in this thread.

However one thing that irks me, is that in order to not have to watch that ridiculous tampon commercial 4 times, or the “text 555 to 5558 to get FREE RINGTONES FOR LIFE” add five thousand times in an hour long show, I also have to miss the ADDS that actually ARE important to me, or actually do speak to me.

I no longer am up to date on what movies are comming out, or what OTHER TELEVISION SHOWS ARE COMMING TO MY FAVORITE CHANNEL. Or even what new interesting products are available.

Obviously I can, and do, find all this information out online, but isn’t that the opposite of what these networks actually want?

The problem with TV these days, is we are bombarded by ridiculous adds, that are literally on par with website pop ups, spam, and annoying adds that you will LITERALLY NEVER give any kind of respect to.

I get enough junk advertising on the internet, in my email, in my regular snail mail, in the newspapers, billboards, flyer’s, vehicle wraps, food products I’ve already purchased, etc.

Why don’t they realize that people don’t mind finding out about new things through advertisements, but instantly loose interest (and respect) when the jumping, singing frog on the TV tells them to use their cellphone to text 555 to 5666 for free ring tones.

And don’t even get me started on the prescription drug commercials that are completely unneeded, spam my doctor with that crap, not me.

Nasty Old Geezer says:

Re: Humph

Maybe if the cable companies would get on board with a new model, we could try a few things.

I would trade some amount of personal information (age, gender, interests — nothing financial) for the ability to receive only ads for products I MIGHT ACTUALLY BUY!

It would be a triple win — I get much less crap on my tube, the advertisers are much more likely to get a purchase response from me, and the cable companies could charge extra for the targeted ads.

This might even be the ticket to get the cable cos to unbundle and sell me ala carte channels.

KG says:

I love 30-second skip

This article is somewhat wrong… I don’t see the ads at ALL. I have on my DVR a magic tool called 30 second skip. It skips 30 seconds at a time. During a certain 1 hour show I watch daily, as soon as the screen goes black for a commercial break, I hit the 30-sec skip button 7 times (this particular show always shows seven commercials during each break) and in about 2 seconds, the show is back on. I don’t see the commercials fast forwarding… So…haha. And yeah, they play the SAME damn annoying commercials EVERY day. If you want me to actually NOT use the 30-sec skip feature…how bout make some commercials that are actually entertaining? And don’t show the same damn huggies or Wal-Mart ad 50 times a day!

Eric the Grey says:

Interesting adds

I agree with adds that can be effective. If they are interesting, and don’t interfere with my show, I don’t particularly mind watching it.

I too have the 30-second jump feature on my DVR, and do use it on occasion. However, SciFi channel has a block on Monday nights, where they show Anime. I’ve taken to watching the commercials (except when they air wrestling commercials) because they throw in a short scene from one of the animes they’re showing, with different dialog, most often humorous. It actually makes watching through the commercials worth while.

As to the ones that cover over the lower part of the show, I’ve stopped watching TNT, and a few other channels who do that.


B says:

Where's the FCC when you need them?

I’m coming closer and closer to canceling my satellite service. I’m sick of being told how to watch TV and being pandered to.

I agree TNT (and TBS) are by far the worst offenders with pop-up ads. I hope for a day when someone invents a pop-up blocker like with websites, just with TV. I’m getting really sick of NBC’s pop-ups for their fall lineup as well. I see why Elvis shot the TV, and that was when you only had three channels. I’d take that over the garbage that infiltrates the airwaves as well.

I’m also sick of credit squeezes, all in the name of money. I really wish cable companies would stop speaking for me, and placing what they THINK I want to see, in terms of pop-ups and squeezed credits. What’s ironic is that they do this to “keep” viewers tuned in, however, I usually change the channel at the first pop-up or sign of credit squeezing. Most of the cable channels could implode tomorrow, and I would care less.

These companies are gonna crumble under their own greed, and I’ll be pointing and laughing, a la Nelson Muntz.

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