The Fallout From Repetitive Ads Is Worse Than You Think

Results of a new ad effectiveness test underscore just how damaging repetitive ads on streaming services are to both brands and streaming platforms. 

Fully 87% of 1,246 weekly streaming viewers participating in the controlled test, conducted by Magna Media Trials and ad-tech platform Nexxen, agreed that they see too many of the same ads.

For the study, participants were exposed to the same ad but at varying frequencies — one, four or six times — in an hour-long viewing session in their own homes, during a TV show picked by the viewers themselves. The number of exposures and the brand advertised were randomized.

Ads were provided by athletic-wear brand New Balance and restaurant chain Applebee’s.

Participants who saw the same ad six times showed the highest brand recall -- at 92%, compared to 85% for four exposures and 64% for one exposure.



But they also reported the highest negative associations, expressing 48% higher-than-average annoyance with the ad experience, compared to 4% higher than average among those with four exposures, and 52% below average for those with one exposure.

In addition, those with six exposures were 33% more likely than average to say that the ad was disruptive to their overall streaming viewing experience, versus 4% higher than average among those with four exposures, and 42% below average for those with one exposure.

Positive perceptions are also affected by repetition.

The highest-exposure group was 15% less inclined than average to say they would not mind seeing an ad again.

And the groups with six and four ad exposures were significantly less likely than those with one exposure to say that a brand “knows how to connect with me,” and that a brand excites them.

Most important, purchase intent for the advertised brands declined by 16% among those with six exposures.

Fewer than half (49%) of that group said they were very or somewhat likely to purchase an advertised product, versus 53% among the four exposures group and 57% among the single exposure group (chart top of page).

Viewers do blame brands and platforms for repetitive ads. Eighty-three percent of participants said they believe that repeating ads is intentional, 68% that it is specifically the brand’s intention to repeat the ad, and 44% that it is the platform’s intention to repeat the ad.

And they also claim that they don’t just sit still for this treatment. More than half (51%) of viewers say they are willing to take action to avoid ad overkill in various ways.

Those include checking to see if another streaming service offers the show or movie (43%), recommending against the streaming service (27%), ceasing to watch the service (20%) or even cancelling their subscription to the service (19%). A third (35%) say they would have a less favorable opinion of the service.

In terms of ad placement, 60% prefer a long advertising break before a program starts, while 34% prefer shorter breaks during the show.

“Running a spot repeatedly during the same show might improve recall but at what cost?,” points out Kara Manatt, executive vice president, intelligence solutions at Magna, IPG Mediabrands’ intelligence and investment unit. “Study participants were clear on how frustrating it was to see the same ad again and again, and this cast a shadow over the brand and the streaming network. Worst of all, advertisers are paying for these declines in purchase intent and simultaneously targeting consumers while turning them off to their brands.”

“Both advertisers and broadcasters need to get to a place where viewers don’t notice a difference in the quality of the advertising experience on streaming compared to linear,” says Nexxen’s chief product officer, Karim Rayes. “Unfortunately, today, many ad servers are not equipped with the ability or are missing the adequate data to unify programmatic and direct demand while managing for frequency.”

The report advises advertisers to ask publishers and programmatic buying platforms whether they are capable of decisioning based on the brand’s rules, including frequency capping and competitive separation.

7 comments about "The Fallout From Repetitive Ads Is Worse Than You Think".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 21, 2023 at 8:38 a.m.

    All  of which raises some qquestions. First and foremost  what percentage of CTV AVOD/FAST viweing  features the "bad" situation depicted--- same commercial repeated six times during an hour of viewing? Is this the norm for CTV ad exposures---like it happens 75% or more of the time ---or is it much less typical---like it happens 5-10% of the time.

    Another question concerns the design of the study. Were the respondents asked specifically to watch the ad messages knowing that they would be asked questions about them later---which would create an unusualy high level of attentiveness---hence the negative reaction? Or did they watch the content in a normal way,  in which case, many of the viewers would have left the room or paid no attention to the commercials no matter how often they were  repeated?

    Finally, there are other TV situations where commercials are repeated excessively---for example many live sports attractions. Is there any evidence that this causes a negative response by such audiences---or do they mostly ignore the repetitive commercials?

    I'm not saying that excessive presentations of a brand's commercials are good thing, but we need some context in real world situations to help us in evaluating "the problem" and finding ways to cure it.

  2. Ed DeNicola from MediaLytics, July 21, 2023 at 1:15 p.m.

    This is a great write up on an important research study. Part of the problem is that ad sellers are unable to fulfill orders for impressions against target audiences without creating high frequencies in certain shows / content. Moreover, they're not willing to turn the business away. This research does a good job of laying out the damaging effect for brands.

  3. Robert Bishop from FLTVlabs, July 21, 2023 at 5:45 p.m.

    Even though this study doesn't reveal everything in terms of ad saturation and negative branding as Ed Papazian points out, these are viable data points that shouldn't be ignored in favor of waiting for something "better." Back in the day, Versus Network (before it became NBC Sports Network) showed the same freakin Lincoln Navigator ad EVERY SINGLE COMMERCIAL BREAK during each of the 21 stages of their live/replay coverage of the Tour de France (gran tour stages average ~4 hours). Yeah, I would never look at that vehicle and more than a decade has transpired. Today, it's not uncommon for Hulu to serve up the same 15-second spot three times in a row (i.e., back-to-back). Needless-to-say, Liberty Mutual will *never* be my choice for insurance. Frankly, there's no excuse for an IP-based delivery system to do this. It's just plain laziness and greed at the expense of viewers and brands alike.

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 21, 2023 at 8:22 p.m.

    When an advertiser buys time on old fashioned "linear TV"  how ads are scheduled follows accepted rules that both sellers and buyers understand and agree to. In most cases it's the sellers, not the buyers who handle the placement of the ad messages---often rotating them in commercial breaks with those of other advertisers. And exceptions aside---you almost never see the same commercial three let alone  six times in the same one hour show. If that were to happen it would not be tolertated as such practices are understood by buyers and sellers to be unacceptable. Once alerted, the advertiser's agency would be able to flag such  unwanted frequency pile-ups as there are sources which monitor commercial placements--and the seller probably would not get paid for the redundant scheduling or, failing that, would be negotiated down to a much lower CPM for the spots in question. If the offense was repeated, the seller might not get another schedule from that advertiser for a long time---maybe never.

     The same point applies to radio, magazines and newspapers. But not to CTV it seems. Here we are told that it's the agency's job or the advertiser's responsibility to see to it that such things don't  happen---not the sellers. Are the sellers doing the advertiesers a favor by taking their money for ad schedules---hence this is not their problem? Does that sound right to anyone?

  5. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, July 22, 2023 at 11:56 a.m.

    Ed:  Spot on as always.  Absolutely not right of course.  However, those agencies that accept the deceit of buying impressions that are merely content-rendered-counts wherever they land on the media vehicle's schedule on whatever screen (aka so called per MRC "viewable impressions") from the sellers to secure low CPMs (that have little real value!) perhaps get what they deserve. 
    True independent ad verfication systems would, in real time, reveal whether the right creative ran per the complete agency specifictions including reach & frequency based on real exposure against the target group.  Industry insider reports indicate the "play requirements" are often not fulfilled via programmatic buys contributing to unaccaptable frequency in its many dimensions.  This is surely further evidence of the many problems with media ad spot computerized auctions, i.e., programmatic executions, that are not fully verified on every ad/brand specification requirement which are typically demanded and rigorously checked on direct buys. 

  6. marc viale from Marketing Lab LLC, August 4, 2023 at 5:29 p.m.

    The audiences per streaming platform are too small compared to linear, so you have to over frequency and why CTV is basically your 3 or 4th best option

  7. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, August 4, 2023 at 6:31 p.m.

    This problem also pertains to online ads. What makes both online and television bad is the advertisers have to the right to block their ads by categories first then by demographic or geoggraphic. Thereby, a few quality ads go to a small number channels or net venues. The worse I have seen on the net is sex toys and though I have them blocked by category, the ad distributor forces the ad on my site.

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