The truth about TV ad avoidance

Mike Hess and Barbara McNamara
Carat USA

The industry needs to re-think how TV advertising actually works in today's multi-platform, DVR-based environment where ad clutter may be as big a problem as avoidance

To what extent TV commercials are actually watched has been a topic of US media industry debate since TV went ‘free’ over half a century ago. Statistics such as the estimate that 90 million toilets are flushed during the Super Bowl interval seem to suggest large-scale ad avoidance.

The industry is predicated on the fundamental notion that people do watch advertising or, at least, enough of it to make a real difference in brand awareness, liking and ultimately, sales. The trading currency that measures these eyeballs – Nielsen Ratings - allows broadcasters to charge more money for a programme that has an 11.4 rating (11.4% of US households) than they can for a programme that has a 10.4 rating.