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.