Study: Viewers Engage More With TV Ads Than Video Ads

A new biometric survey shows that traditional TV commercials are four times more engaging than video advertising on Facebook.

Boston-based Innerscope Research used biometric monitoring, eye-tracking and traditional survey methods to measure the nonconscious and conscious reactions of 390 consumers ages 18 to 34. Participants were exposed to the same video advertisements across Facebook, TV and digital pre-roll on PC, tablet and smartphone.

Innerscope says the study was a “client commissioned” survey; it did not disclose the client. Biometric data is captured with technology to record fluctuations in heart rate, skin conductance and breathing patterns.

In addition, the survey says consumers have “higher visual attention” with final branding moments and brand logos on TV advertising -- which Innerscope says probably is a result of larger screen sizes -- than those viewed online as pre-roll for any device.



In keeping with results from biometric and eye tracking data, 47% of consumers said they immediately skip or ignore a video ad on Facebook before watching it.

Innerscope says 25% of consumers were more likely to say they would try or buy target brands after watching the ads on TV, compared to watching the ads on Facebook at 9%.

Innerscope says smaller screens are a big factor in lower video ad impact, where visual attention spent on branding moments, logos and taglines declined with screen size.

The best results with smaller screen video advertising come in the first moments of a digital video ad -- with emotional engagement peaking in the first three to five seconds. Innerscope says for smaller screens, “bright, bold copy more effectively communicated messages in cross-device campaigns.”

Dr. Carl Marci, co-founder/chief science officer for Innerscope Research, stated: "Our studies continue to show that consumers bring different mindsets and expectations to various media platforms.”

11 comments about "Study: Viewers Engage More With TV Ads Than Video Ads".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 30, 2015 at 8:23 a.m.

    While this kind of research probably places the "viewer" in an atypical situation by virtue of the setting and the biometric monitoring process, the findings are not surprising. The most important point concerns the relative impact of screen size. In this regard, a standard TV screen offers advertisers a huge advantage over small screen digital platforms in capturing attention and giving audiences a more dynamic and engaging presentation. One can only wonder what the results would have looked like if Innerscope had simulated digital's "viewability" problem and presented only a third of the digital ads in their entirety, with some viewers exposed to only a few seconds of the mesage and about half of them facing screens containing only editorial content.

  2. Terry Heaton from Reinvent21, April 30, 2015 at 9:05 a.m.

    You know, what's the point of wasting money studying this? I don't get it. Young people don't watch advertiser-supported TV. If they do, they skip the ads or turn to their smartphones, if watching something live. Why are we trying to prove that, in a controlled setting, TV ads are more engaging? Do we really believe that advertisers are uninformed about all this?

  3. Ed Gaffney from GroupM, April 30, 2015 at 9:52 a.m.

    Terry - Young people do watch advertiser supported TV, and as reported by peer reviewed research, more of it than any other form of video.  They certainly watch less linear TV than they used to, but they do watch.
    As for advertisers being uniformed, I don't believe that is true.  I can say many are confused by the contradictory statements they hear, many of which are anecdotal and wholly unsupported by any valid research.

  4. Alan King from IPG MediaBrands, April 30, 2015 at 10:07 a.m.

    Everyone is so concerned with what's better; and what's better changes like the wind based on whatever research is published that day.

    Real marketers think about the media mix and pull the most appropriate levers for the task at hand. Really smart ones plan channels holistically for maximum efficiency. 

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 30, 2015 at 10:23 a.m.

    Terry, as Ed Gaffney points out, "young people" watch plenty of "linear TV"---that's simply a fact. Moreover, though many opt out per commercial break---as is the case for other viewers as well---their average "zapping" rate---counting live as well as delayed viewing--- is far, far lower than 100% as you seem to be assuming---based on what evidence, by the way? It is also a fact that TV ad recall and ad campaign awareness studies show significant levels of message registration for "Millennials" as well as other segments of the population. If the 18-34s never watched commercials how can such results be reported time after time? Is this part of a coordinated  plot by the researchers to prop up "linear TV" with falsified findings? As for the advertiser sponsored study, referrred to in this article, it certainly is prudent to investigate the ability of various electronic platforms to communicate your message, rather than accepting "the power of digital" as an act of faith. To do otherwise would be irresponsible and, frankly, rather dumb.                  

  6. Mai Kok from So What, April 30, 2015 at 11:24 a.m.

    The lead says it all. Facebook. This is an indictment against Facebook and their video ad paradigm, NOT an indictment against digital video ads, digital TV, or otherwise.

    There is a reason FB is facing 1) decline growth 2) decline revenue - GAAP income shows FB peaked in income in Q3'14. Even non-GAAP shows it peaked in Q4'14.

    And advertisers are getting hip to the fact that the FB audience isn't responsive to FB video ads - hence the decline revenue.

    Come on - stop shining sh*t and calling it gold. Call it for what it is. Indictment against Facebook.

  7. Kathy Newberger from TBD, April 30, 2015 at 11:38 a.m.

    Original press and infographic here:

  8. David Mattson from Mr., April 30, 2015 at 11:48 a.m.

    Great discussion here - especially Ed Papazian and Ed Gaffney - TV is still the queen of media in many ways, and will be for the foreseeable future.  Smart marketers (with the budget) are using TV and video in complementary fashion.  A comscore study (despite the fact it is a little dated -  2012), shows that when you use both TV and online video, likeability and memorability fr the TV spots themselves rises!  In addition, according to the study, diverting 10% of the TV $ to video results in a corresponding 15.9% increase in reffective each.  

    I would also like to point out that Facebook counts a 'view' after the viewer has watched for 3 seconds, whereas YouTube's TrueView only charges for the view after the viewer has watched for 30 seconds or until the end of the video, whichever comes first.  The YT unit is much, much more valuable for the advertiser, in my opinion.

    Thanks to all who contributed.

  9. Nitin Narang from mediaentertainmentinfo, April 30, 2015 at 3:51 p.m.

    Screen size has a definite role play, but the ease of accessibility and multi tasking options available on PC, tablet and smart phone are other reasons which makes users less engaged and interested in Ads and switch.

    The title is misleading since the study only takes FB Video Ads as against Video Ads from any other medium like YouTube etc.. 

  10. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, April 30, 2015 at 5:04 p.m.

    Agree - good thread. I also think there's more happening here than merely screen size. Can't comment exacly on the study methodology. But I observe a couple of truths about viewing live or time shifted TV vs. anything online.

    • With TV, I'm already settled into a longer term viewing period - so my brain is accepting images/sound appropriately for the ad prior to the ad appearing. That makes me more receptive to the ad - if you will all I do is figure out what the ad is. But in a video situation, I'm shifting from browsing to viewing, not really sure if I'm going to like what I'll view, more concerned about what's coming than simply viewing, etc... As a result, mentally I'm unprepared to hear the messages in the ad. 

    • With TV, I'm open to stimulation and surprise. So, with TV ads I'm more likely to encounter something I hadn't thought of and be open to it. But online, I'm generally on a mission - focused on finding something, viewing something, learning a specific. My mind is targeted and focused. And that makes me unreceptive to the advertising. That also makes the advertising far more irritating than when viewing TV.

    In 20 years of research I've heard these threads from untold consumers. Especially, it's been clear that consumers pick up far more new things on TV than anywhere else. The idea of "a mission" is pretty important, I think. In a store we're on a mission so we don't notice or learn about new products very well. Online, similar thing. And if we are just "browsing" online we're receptive to what our search might come up with but not receptive to the ads it might bring with it for things unrelated to our search.

  11. Andreas Schroeter from wywy, May 5, 2015 at 8:11 a.m.

    Agree with most commenters that TV is still highly relevant. The study setup probably does not hold up to real life situations as some pointed out. Online you skip or scroll, on TV you switch channels or (now more likely then ever) just move your attention towards your phone or tablet during the commercial break. We did a study together with TNS showing that TV ad awareness drops by 58% when people engage with a Second Screen device. No real surprise as their eyeballs are not on the TV.

    That said, smart marketeers will take advantage of this shift in consumer behavior and look at how connect their story across screens, be it coordinated TV & online video campaigns, synced display & paid search ads or similar. Many viewers immediately engage with TV ads by searching or visiting a website, now becoming easier than ever for advertiser to see the results of each single airing.

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