Fast Forwarding as Ad Strategy


Videoholics who have been paying attention in class will recall the Boston College study from last year that found fast forwarding through ads on DVRs was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, research showed that the act of hitting the FF button focused user attention on the center of the screen. How else can you make sure that you don't over shoot the commercial and eat into precious programming time? It turns out that we're not really skipping commercials so much as compressing them. People can process the images even when they get only one out of the 24 per second a video stream might show them. Post-campaign brand preference studies of those who had fast forwarded through a chocolate bar ad and those who did it the old fashioned natural speed way found similar metrics. Fast forwarding might actually be good for advertisers.

Well it was just a matter of time (a year, actually) before some ad tech company turned this research nugget into an ad format. Panache worked with MTV Networks to customize a fast forwarding ad unit for the Samsung Galaxy S phone. Shortly after the start of the ad, which overlays the screen on a Web browser and works in-frame on an HTML5 version, the viewer gets an on-screen prompt to Fast Forward. What is interesting about the ad execution itself is that even when the video speeds up considerably the messaging voiceover is sped up but still intelligible. You race through the pre-roll and still get the brand message.

Now, since this is a digital ad unit that kicks over automatically into the content, the user may not necessarily have that hyper-focus. After all, on this platform, unlike the DVR, they don't have to worry about overshooting. Still, this particular custom build is effective because the ad wants you to fast forward. It is part of the message about the speed of the phone. The Galaxy S gives you a snappy mobile experience, "just like when you press here" the ad reads.

Panache claims the unit has gotten 1.5 million views on ComedyCentral so far with a 2% click through and 89% completion rate. Admittedly, this is a cheat. The consumer isn't actually being given the ability to fast forward through any ad, so much as being asked to hit the button and participate in the brand's point. That, more than the fast forward effect itself, may be more responsible for the good performance. It is just a creative executive. Fine, but the model also serves as a proof of concept that some variation on this might just work to engage users and still give them a sense of control in the digital video environment.

You can see a demo of the ad here.

An HTML5 version is viewable well on an iPad, although it got strange on Chrome.

What would your next campaign look like at 20X?

3 comments about "Fast Forwarding as Ad Strategy".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 3, 2010 at 3:51 p.m.

    Unless you have a TiVo, that is. An undocumented feature (the button sequence is select-play-select-3-0-select) turns the remote control "tab" key (which normally functions as an end/begin button) into a "skip 30 seconds" button. Pretty cool. The viewer thus hops over each commercials, 30 seconds at a time, seeing nothing! (The little 8-second backup button conquers overshoot.) It's yet another reason to buy a TiVo instead of the hunk of junk the cable company peddles. Instead of commercials, you just "ba-doop ba-doop" right past them (that's the TiVo sound effect...)

  2. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, December 3, 2010 at 4:37 p.m.

    "How else can you make sure you over shoot the Commercial and eat into precious programming time?"

    NO KIDDING! Why do people pre-record a show and then zip through the ads? BECAUSE WE HAVE BETTER THING TO DO THAN SIT THROUGH 15 TO 20+ MINUTES OF COMMERCIALS PER HOUR! Not to mention to shield our Children from certain kinds of Ads, but that's another Story!

  3. George McLam, December 3, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.

    And I am stil using an older DVR which has Commercial Advance technology in it - I don't even have to press a button, the commercials are all automatically skipped. I see nothing and don't even have to tell the box that the commercial group started.

    This is the kind of thing everyone is not getting because they gave in to the cheap prices for "DVRs" being offered by their TV service provider. Why do you people think they are offering DVRs for such a low price? Answer: to keep you from learning about the real thing.

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