Consumers Who Watch TV Online More Engaged Than TV-Set Watchers, Simmons Finds

Consumers are 47% more engaged in ads that run with television programs that they view online than those watched on a TV set, according to new research findings.

A cross-media study by Simmons, a unit of Experian Research Services, also found that viewers are 25% more engaged in the content of TV shows that they watch online than on a TV.

The study defines "engagement" according to six characteristics that respondents identify with media: "inspirational," "trustworthy," "life-enhancing," "social interaction," "personal time-out" and ad receptivity.

Survey participants were asked, for instance, to rate TV shows, magazines and Web sites based on how "inspiring" they were or how much they provided fodder for conversation. Ad "receptivity" was gauged on how willing people were to view or read advertising in a given medium because of its relevance.

John Fetto, product manager for Experian Research Services, said that the research suggests that TV ads online are especially effective at reaching consumers.

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"Web sites that are extensions of properties that exist in other media channels have great potential to funnel audiences that are highly engaged in the first place," he said.

TV aside, the study found that people are 18% more engaged in ads online, as opposed to print versions, of magazines--and that they are also 15% more engaged in magazine articles online than in print.

In demographic terms, women and younger consumers were shown to have higher levels of engagement online than men and older users. However, the differences were not huge. For instance, based on a 100- to 500-point scoring system, women on average were only slightly more receptive to online ads than men on average, at 236 to 228, respectively.

Also, those between the ages of 35 and 54 rated the Internet as being almost as trustworthy a source of information as did 18- to-34-year-olds (307 for the older demographic, 316 for the younger one).

Other findings:

• People are more receptive to ads on sites that they visit often. Those who visited sites two to six times per week or more are more likely to be responsive to ads than less frequent visitors.

• Among media overall, print rated higher in engagement than TV or the Internet. Does that mean rumors of print being dead are highly exaggerated? Not necessarily. Fetto said that the study showed that among those who read magazines, it's the most engaging medium--but overall, the audience for print media is declining.

The Simmons study was based on 74,996 interviews with U.S. adults about the TV programs, magazines and Web sites that they watch, read and visit. The survey was conducted online and via telephone between October 2006 and September 2007.

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