Are Tablets the DVR Antidote?

The tablet may be the best thing to ever happen to the modern TV. A second screen can reduce the amount of time viewers spend skipping ads, according to a just-released study that Bravo Media conducted with Latitude Research on multiscreen viewers.

Nearly two-thirds of the study participants said that having access to a laptop, mobile phone or tablet while watching TV made them less inclined to skip the ads. Specifically, Bravo said that if viewers had a phone, laptop and a TV on hand they fast forwarded at the start of 40% of ad breaks. Dual-screeners with a smartphone and TV skipped ads 51% of the time.

But are the viewers paying attention to the ads, or are they simply distracted by another screen?

“Tri-screeners were observed to have over 13 attention shifts away from the TV – mostly to other screens – while the actual show was airing, and dual-screeners had over 7 attention shifts away from TV. Multi-screeners were found to be viewing mostly ad-friendly content on their companion screens, with participants spending the greatest share of their time on websites and apps – often related to the program currently airing,” the media company said.

Those findings suggest that tablet and smartphone screens may represent an untapped opportunity to “capture” the TV viewers when they’re looking away, because they’re often looking up info related to the show or the ad. Along these lines, Nielsen found in an April study that among simultaneous TV and tablet viewers, about 37% of tablet users looked up information related to the program they were watching, while 27% looked up information related to an ad.

Given that more than 15 percent of TV homes in the U.S. own a tablet, this mobile device may turn out to be a vital link in reconnecting ad-skipping viewers back to brands. Bravo said that about half of multiscreen viewers were more likely to remember brands if they’d seen their ads on more than one screen. “Ad Awareness lift for brands embedded within the viewing session improved among viewers who had cross-screen ad exposure, helping to almost entirely overcome any effectiveness shortfall resulting from DVR-enabled ad avoidance,” the study said.

Other recent studies corroborate that tablets may be the best thing to happen to TV. Research firm TDG recently found that among those in the 18 to 49 demo who use tablets to watch online TV, 39% said their tablet viewing has led to a rise in their regular TV viewing, while another 46% said they’ve experienced no change. Also, GfK Media has found that nearly half of minutes spent on a tablet are simultaneous with TV viewing.

So viewers may still be avoiding ads on TV, but that avoidance could become a tablet ad opportunity.

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2 comments about "Are Tablets the DVR Antidote?".
  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , October 23, 2012 at 2:51 p.m.
    The problem for producers of advertising-supported programs has never been people not watching the ads. The real problem is producers' not being able to claim that people might have watched the ads, owing to timeshifting. You are correct to note that tablets diminish timeshifting, which in turn allows the networks to claim that the ads were seen. The agencies are happy because the old system is preserved. You are also correct to note that the advertisers themselves may not benefit from an uptick in ad impressions, except as assumed impressions. People have been distracted for decades during commercial breaks. I sure enjoy my mute button during live shows, especially with Presidential candidates.
  2. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , October 23, 2012 at 5:53 p.m.
    Interestingly, DVR's have helped advertising generate higher impact. In part, when that 1 in 100 ad comes on that someone cares about, they can rewind and be certain they see it. So is this a good thing? Only if they're using the tablet and DVR together...