Lower advertising loads on TV programming yields only small improvements in watching individual TV commercials, according to a recent report.
When programmers reduced ad loads, such as cutting the number of ads by 50% or more, viewer engagement saw single-digit growth — just 7%, according to research from Comcast’s Freewheel, its video management platform.
It also found a 30% reduction in show's commercials would only improve viewing by 5%. “The marginal increases in engagement almost never compensated for the massive reduction in inventory,” the authors report.
A number of TV network/media companies — such as NBC and 21st Century Fox — recently announced major plans to reduce commercial inventory on their networks. Other network groups, such as Turner and Viacom, have already taken similar steps.
The goal, according to executives, is that lowering advertising clutter would lead to more “engagement” viewing TV spots.
When it comes to TV commercials on digital video advertising, the results lessen. The report says viewers aren’t as “sensitive” because digital video ad loads are already at a reasonable level. “Publishers need to look beyond just a simple reduction in ads to more nuanced choreography strategies.”
Freewheel says broadcast programming on digital platforms averages 8 minutes/14 seconds per hour, with cable programming on digital platforms at 8 minutes/39 seconds.
This is still lower than on linear TV, where broadcast network programming is at 11 minutes/33 seconds and cable at 13 minutes/27 seconds.
The FreeWheel test results came from 20 “distinct engagements” — 100 unique ad experiences — across 13 premium video programmers from the third quarter 2013 to the fourth quarter 2017.