At a time when consumers -- and the ad industry -- appear to be blurring platform lines and lumping all forms of TV consumption together, new independent research being released today indicates there still are fundamental differences in the way consumers experience TV programming and ads across platforms. The research, which is being unveiled at Nielsen’s annual client meeting in Las Vegas this morning, shows that viewing on a conventional TV set continues to trump viewing on computers, smartphones and tablets in terms of ad attentiveness and recall, as well as their overall enjoyment of the programming and advertising they watch.
The study, which was commissioned by Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence, used independent researcher Hub Entertainment Research to measure how people watched the same five shows -- "Bones," "Family Guy," "The Big Bang Theory," "Survivor" and "Family Feud” -- including identical ad loads on TV, computers, smartphones and tablets. Based on a 15-minute post-viewing survey conducted online by nearly 2,000 respondents, Hub found that 62% of respondents were able to recall half or more of the advertisers, vs. only 47% for tablets, 46% for smartphones and 45% for computers.
Using a 10-point scale to measure “attentiveness” of the ads they viewed, 29% of respondents rated TV in the “8-10” range, vs. 23% for smartphones, 20% for computers and 17% for tablets.
The findings suggest that the experiential differences are due to two primary factors -- the size of the screen that consumers were watching, and the role multitasking plays when watching TV content on each platform.
“Multi-tasking negatively impacts engagement with ads (sponsor recall) but not with show (plot recall),” the study found. “Very little multi-tasking behavior (7-11%, depending on the platform) during ads was related to the brands featured in the ads themselves.”
"The fact that viewers were equally engaged with program content, regardless of screen, suggests that there’s nothing inherent in the device itself that makes them less likely to pay attention to ads,” Hub Principal Peter Fondulas said in a statement, noting: “The more likely culprit for the lower ad engagement on smaller screens is an ad delivery approach that doesn’t align well with the expectations, and viewing situations, of consumers watching on mobile devices."
The CRE is comprised of Nielsen clients who utilize funds allocated by Nielsen to conduct independent research -- usually primary research studies -- to understand important issues impacting the way consumers use and experience media, principally TV. Nielsen has been funding the CRE since 2005.
Nielsen’s funding for 2016 is nearly $3 million.