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Alternative Screens: Putting TV Advertising on the Spot

Written on
Apr 29, 2014 
Author
David Leider  |

ADOTAS – Like the high school prom queen 20 years later, the television screen is beginning to lose its glow for viewers, as younger, more appealing screens divert their attention. Although TV ad spending is still rising, the number of people TV is reaching is trending toward flat or declining. After examining figures from Kantar Media and Nielsen, Marketing Charts reports:

“The size of the TV-viewing population (Americans aged 2 years and older) appears to be recovering, but has remained mostly stagnant for almost 2 years. TV consumption rates seem to be remaining fairly flat, too. Overall, traditional TV viewing time is inching up, though there are stark demographic differences at play: the oldest segments continue to increase their viewing time, while younger segments are slowly turning away from traditional TV and upping their consumption of online video.”


The fact is, technology is robbing TV of its attraction as “the” media vehicle to attract desirable demographics. New “device and location-based” screens are now delivering information and entertainment to the most important audiences. For instance, 7 in 10 U.S. households subscribe to (commercial-free) Netflix, use video on demand, or have a DVR according to Leichtman Research Group. While all these technologies display programming on the TV screen, they also make it easier for consumers to bypass advertising. A Motorola Mobility study found that more than one-third of viewers’ weekly TV content in the U.S. is recorded — and of that content, 41 percent is never watched. Stated another way, a sizeable portion of the TV ad spend is wasted as viewers time shift and delete programming.

Furthermore, recorded programs that are watched may occur many days or weeks after the original broadcast, making time-sensitive marketing messages ineffective, and their commercial may never be seen. A Nielsen study found that, for one 30-minute program, viewers watched an average of about 23 minutes, compared with 28 minutes for those who watched it via video on demand. The implication is they were fast-forwarding past the commercials in the recorded show, an action they were unable to do with VOD.

At the same time, other screens are distracting viewers as they sit in front of the TV. A Deloitte survey discovered that 81 percent of U.S. TV viewers almost always or always are doing something else while watching at home. Among those 24-29 years old, that figure rises to 88 percent. Often they are logged into social media like Twitter to discuss TV programs as they watch them, but this engagement is centered on the programming rather than the commercial content. The Council for Research Excellence confirms that among people using their mobile devices in front of the television, one-third of TV ad time is spent looking at the devices rather than the TV spots. The implication is that, when the commercial comes on, viewers turn to a different screen.

While the research suggests that marketers should be increasing their ad budgets for online and mobile — which most are — it also should offer a clue to the value of other innovative technology as advertising media. Today’s consumer is surrounded by screens — not just in the home but also in office buildings, on the road, at the gym, at the ballpark, in hotel lobbies, above restaurant tables, on the seatbacks of airliners, at gas stations and in numerous other locations.

Marketers cannot afford to ignore these secondary screens which, collectively, occupy a sizeable proportion of consumer attention. Technology developers already are focused on new ways to capture audiences for commercial messages.

Digital billboards are brightening roadsides with changeable messages that are impossible to overlook. Lobbies in headquarters buildings, hotels, entertainment venues and doctors’ offices run programming and commercial content targeted to visitors who are waiting for an activity to begin. Rare is the airport without a scoreboard-sized TV display, often running CNN programming next to commercial messages displayed on a portion of the screen.

The ideal screen is one that can entertain and inform consumers when they are a captive audience. My company, Gas Station TV (GSTV), runs sponsored news, sports and entertainment summaries, as well as local weather updates on screens built into gasoline pumps. Our research indicates that, on average, it is 50 percent more likely to deliver A18-to-49 than any broadcast network. While filling up, consumers can watch and hear the content comfortably. This type of unconventional video can consistently deliver higher ad recall, as well as the ability to target specific audiences. It enables the marketer to fashion a more strategic ad spend, understanding for instance, that the consumer watching the content drives a car, buys auto insurance, is likely to have a car loan, and is watching at a particular time on a specific day.

Today’s consumer can be constantly on the move, thanks to mobile devices and in-home technology. “Appointment TV” is largely a phenomenon of the past. Advertisers must recognize the need to appeal to consumers who are on the go by incorporating into their marketing budgets the new screens that reach these viewers in non-traditional venues.





David Leider, CEO of Gas Station TV, previously held management positions with Yahoo!, JWT, Doner and Organic. With more than 20 years of experience in the media, automotive, consumer packaged goods, retail and technology sectors, he is one of America’s foremost authorities on the digital media industry.

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