US television viewers engaged with ads

19 May 2010

NEW YORK: A majority of consumers in the US watch TVs ads for the entire duration of a commercial break.

The Council for Research Excellence, the industry body, conducted an in-person, computer-assisted observation of the media consumption habits of 376 adults.

It reported that TV spots and programme promos reached 85% of Americans every day, with the average participant being exposed to 26 commercial breaks.

More specifically, the typical contributor viewed 73 minutes of ads and promotions every 24 hours, coming in at 2 minutes 46 seconds per break.

Overall, 11% of the sample switched channels in the four minutes before breaks began, compared with 14% that did so during these intermissions and 13% in the four minutes after shows resumed.

Some 19% of the panel went to another room in the four minutes prior to a "pod" of spots, a total that climbed to 20% when commercials had begun.

This figure rose again, to 21%, in the four minutes when these brand messages had come to an end, indicating that behaviour remained largely constant.

"In short, when the commercials come on, people stay with the TV," said Laura Cowan, chair of the CRE's media consumption and engagement Committee.

A 56% majority of contributors were also found to remain "engaged solely with media" two minutes after ads had interrupted the broadcast content they had been watching.

This actually constituted an increase of 1% on this measure from the two minutes preceding the onset of a commercial break.

"Until now, we did not have any solid data on viewers' behavior during commercials," Horst Stipp, senior vice president, strategic insights and innovation, for NBC Universal, said.

"This study ... shows that viewers pay more attention to commercials than most people assumed."

According to Warc's most recent Consensus Forecast, US television adspend is set to rise by 3.7% in 2010 and 1.5% in 2011.

Data sourced from Council for Research Excellence; additional content by Warc staff