DVR Research Doesn't Terrify, It Pacifies

Maybe there's a DVR research conspiracy plaguing the TV public these days. First throwing us into a fear frenzy, more recently patting us on the back until we regain a calmer state.

New research suggests viewers using DVR technology will actually stop fast-forwarding to look at commercials at normal speeds -- when they are interesting, entertaining, or appetizing when users are deciding what to eat for dinner.

Frank N. Magid Associates said more than half of DVR users stop their high-flying fast-forwarding action to enjoy a regular commercial once in a while. Maybe they miss the old days - ziplock bags, Kia cars, cat litter. It doesn't matter.

Magid found that advertisers need to make commercials more visually striking - using more static shots and eliminating many fast editing techniques. The viewers will follow.

Creative advertising types always push clients to use something more visually dramatic in their ads. Clients might say, "Well yes. But will it move product?" A creative might retort: "They have the nerve to change my creative vision for boring sales?" As it turns out a little more of that thinking will come in handy.



Magid's research is the latest of a trend - one where worries about the traditional TV commercial business have been initially overblown. Steve Sternberg of Magna Global USA was one of the first to point out that DVR users tend to watch more TV overall and that means not just watching programs but the chance to see more commercials as well.

Still, perhaps this is all an elaborate scheme to keep our guard down. When we aren't looking they'll take those 30-second spots away from us. Then what? Scores of product placements in "CSI"? I hope not. Not enough medical brands reside at Johnson & Johnson to keep up with all those body parts.

So what is DVR's real future? It's still too early to tell. In the early 80s, analysts thought VCRs would give viewers the opportunity to become their own Brandon Tartikoffs - essentially creating their own network schedules.

That didn't happen. Instead, TV viewers - the lazy lot that they are - just wanted to plop in "Blade Runner" and veg out. Perhaps in the future we'll be using the precious DVR disk drive to download hundreds of free VOD movies - as long as a single 30-second commercial runs before the film starts.

Now, that wasn't so scary. Go view in regular -- or fast-forwarding -- peace.

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