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Viewers prefer ad-supported TV

News, 03 October 2016

BOSTON: Despite the rapid adoption of Netflix, Amazon Prime and other video streaming services, a new study has found that the majority of TV viewers (53%) say they prefer free TV, where they "pay" by viewing ads.

Based on responses from more than 1,200 US consumers who watch at least five hours of TV per week, Hub Entertainment Research suggested viewers don't hate ads as much as conventional wisdom dictates, but there are still issues around relevance and targeting.

For example, according to the findings, more than 8-in-10 (83%) of DVR users skip ads "most of the time", including 60% who say they skip every ad.

Around two-thirds (68%) of DVR users say they will at least "sometimes" pause their DVR at the beginning of a live broadcast so they can fast forward through ads, while a quarter (26%) say they do this "every time".

In addition, majorities skip ads "most" of the time (52%) or "every time" (56%) on VOD and online platforms when fast forward is made available.

And if broadcasters believe that disabling fast forward is a solution to ad avoidance, they should be aware that nearly half (45%) of consumers say that the disabling of fast forwarding is a "major frustration".

Hub's report, entitled "2016: TV and Advertising", went on to examine what types of ads have more success in engaging consumers and it identified three key strategies for advertisers – lighter ad loads, targeted ads, and gamifying the ad experience.

With lighter ad loads, the survey found that one ad per ad pod scored 9.3 in terms of the likelihood of paying attention to ads.

Targeting ads based on relevance or product interest is also important because ads deemed more relevant to a person's interests scored 8.1 on Hub's measurement of ad attention.

Fewer, but more targeted, ads scored 7.1, while ads shown based on product categories chosen in advance scored 5.9 – again, higher than the average.

On "gamifying the ad experience", the report found that earning points for watching ads scored 8.2, earning promotional codes for watching ads scored 7.3, while including a countdown clock for when the show will resume (5.9) is also received positively.

"Conventional wisdom says that consumers simply don't like ads on TV. But what our study suggests is that they don't like the way ads are delivered on TV," said Peter Fondulas, Principal at Hub.

"Consumers say they'd welcome having ads more targeted to their interests and product needs. And what's especially interesting is that better targeting of ads based on past purchases doesn't appear to raise major privacy concerns."

Data sourced from Hub Entertainment Research; additional content by Warc staff