FAMILIES WATCHING AND RECALLING MORE TV ADS

Study Finds Groups Are More Receptive to Commercials

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LOS ANGELES -- Although the future of 30-second TV commercials may be threatened by digital video recorders, one new study released by the Family Friendly
The FFPF study found families watch and remember more ads than ever before.

Programming Forum may offer hope to advertisers who still favor the traditional TV format.

The study says that while some individual DVR users may be fast-forwarding through commercials, families viewing DVR and real-time programming are actually watching more ads and have a higher recall of those commercial messages.

Twice the recall rate

For example, nearly 18% of those surveyed who viewed programming with others remembered specific ads compared with 9.1% of those who viewed TV shows alone. Roughly 18% of grouped viewers also remember product categories advertised vs. 12.2% among individuals.

Also, 16.3% of group viewers said they noticed product placement compared with 13.7% for individual viewers, and 11.7% of groups pay attention to ads, vs. 6.1% for individuals.

That suggests brands that back family-friendly fare may benefit twofold -- their ads are being viewed more and their products are being noticed more within the programming.

Most group viewing is family viewing, said Stacey Lynn Koerner, executive vice president and director of global research integration at media agency Initiative, and the study showed that there are unique dynamics taking place that make group viewing significantly different from individual-viewing patterns.

'React to everything as content'

She said groups "react to everything as content -- there's no differentiation between the program and the ads. That reinforces the recall. Those viewers remember the ads and product placement at higher rates than people who watch TV alone."

Additionally, family-oriented programming is recorded less than adult-oriented programming.

Ms. Koerner said families are looking for content "on the spot," and shows that cater to those needs serve as "DVR busters."

Families less likely to DVR

"Programming that's recorded for later viewing is usually more niche and adult," Ms. Koerner said. "Families tend to watch at the day and time shows are scheduled."

The survey, however, added that 38% of those questioned claimed to be watching more TV since purchasing their DVR, because "families can choose from a range of pre-recorded programs vs. being at the mercy of the time schedule."

Friends, CSI, Will & Grace, American Idol, Survivor, The Apprentice and Fear Factor scored highest among the top 25 programs in 2003 and 2004 for young children, teens and adults in the 18-to-34 and 35-to-49 demographic.

The results come as several studies indicated DVRs were limiting the reach and efficiency of traditional advertising.

Previous studies pessimistic

Last month, the American Advertising Federation said 75% of advertising executives surveyed believed that DVR ad-skipping technology will have a dramatic effect on the landscape of TV advertising, leading to continued growth of nontraditional ad formats. Nearly 21% of respondents predicted DVRs would kill off the 30-second spot altogether.

A separate CBS study said of 1,200 DVR homes surveyed, 75% of respondents said they fast-forwarded through commercials, but that viewers still recalled 23% of the spots they skipped.

Threatened by DVRs, advertisers are seeking new ways to reach audiences with their commercial messages, and an increasing number are turning to product placement and other forms of program integration.

But, ironically, it's family-friendly fare that they are turning to, with reality shows such as American Idol, Survivor, The Apprentice and scripted dramas including American Dreams proving popular for product integration.

The Family Friendly Programming Forum is an organization made up of 48 national advertisers, including the Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., FedEx Corp., and Procter & Gamble Co., whose script-development fund led to the creation of shows as the WB's Gilmore Girls, NBC's American Dreams and ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
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