Earlier this year, TVNZ teamed up with Colmar Brunton to embark on a journey to learn how a particular context impacts a viewer’s level of engagement and attentiveness when watching an ad.
Does a specific viewing platform make it easier or harder to capture the viewer’s attention? Is there a difference in recall across different viewing platforms? What is happening with the value exchange between time and money?
Wanting to find the answers, it put broadcast TV, recorded TV, TVNZ OnDemand and YouTube to the test and found broadcast TV and TVNZ OnDemand had the best response to ads. As Mitchell explains, audiences are so used to seeing ads on linear television that they have come to accept it.
“Advertising on broadcast TV is a really good way to reach a mass audience, people are receptive to it."
The findings are the result of a qualitative and quantitative research, which saw participants observed and surveyed. Mitchell calls it “an experiment on steroids” as TVNZ hasn’t seen anything like it before.
For the qualitative research, it recorded natural in-home, in-context viewing across the four platforms by giving three households spyglasses to see what they were watching. They included a traditional nuclear family with teens, a mixed family with mixed age children, and younger flatting adults.
When they watched broadcast TV, TVNZ OnDemand content, recorded content and YouTube, they wore glasses recording their behaviour and at the end of the testing period were questioned about their observed behaviour.
Next, in the quantitative research, 599 interviews were conducted with 18- to 64-year-olds and an experiment was conducted in which the real-world was simulated to explore broadcast TV, recorded TV, TVNZ OnDemand and YouTube. The same ad was played across all platforms and to all participants for their behaviour to be observed while facial coding was used to measure emotional impact.
With recorded TV and YouTube offering an option to skip ads, participants watched the ad on each one twice, once with the skip function and once without, so their response to the ad could be tested.
Those responses include behavioural response, intuitive/emotional response and rational response.
Mitchell notes the comparison is skewed favourably to broadcast, recorded or TVNZ OnDemand purely because the chosen ad was made for TV – a point that was demonstrated in a finding that participants were unwilling to watch a YouTube ad in its entirety unless it’s six-seconds long.
From the interviews with the 599 participants, broadcast TV and YouTube were found to be the most frequently viewed media channels with 53 percent and 47 percent (respectively) of participants regularly using the platform.
And of those turning into broadcast TV regularly, 67 percent are aged 45-64 while 65 percent of those regularly tuning into YouTube are 18-34.
In the same way broadcast TV is the most popular platform, it’s also the platform audience is most receptive to seeing ads. Of the participants, 57 percent were “very open or quite open” to seeing ad. It was followed by TVNZ OnDemand, YouTube, recorded TV and lastly paid TV/video content.
Only 20 percent of participants were “very open" or "quite open” to seeing Paid TV/Video content on their paid platforms.
When breaking down the participants into demographics, those in the 18-24 and 18-34 groups were found to be the most receptive to ads. On broadcast TV, 65 percent of participants who were “very open" or "quite open to" ads were 18- to 24-year olds while on TVNZ OnDemand, 41 percent of those who were “very open" or "quite open" to ads were 18- to 43-years-old.
The trend continued on YouTube and recorded TV while on paid TV/video content it dropped down to 27 percent.
Mitchell says the findings show millennials, while often considered to hate ads, understand the value exchange taking place with viewing ads being the payment for otherwise free content.
The finding that viewers are more open to ads on broadcast TV and TVNZ OnDemand is reflected in the participants' attitudes towards ad placement. When asked if they expected to see advertising shown on broadcast TV, 69 percent “agreed strongly" or "agreed slightly”.
Similarly, when asked if they don’t mind being shown a couple of ads at a time when watching TVNZ OnDemand, 65 percent of participants “agreed strongly" or "agreed slightly”.