TV bears brunt of distracted viewing: AOL study

Fiddling with another device impacts ad recall rates on all platforms, but mobile and tablet viewers seem to have higher retention rates than others.
December 8, 2014

An AOL study that looks at the impact multi-screen use has on advertising has determined that TV bears the brunt of distracted viewing.

Thanks to multi-tasking and cross-device usage among millennials, 148 impressions on primetime TV are equal to 100 impressions on short-form video content.

Released on Friday, the study examined the video consumption habits of 2,525 people across the U.S. who watch more than an hour of video per day on their TV, phone, tablet or computer. The study found that distractions have a direct impact on ad recall — when fiddling with another device, recall rates among TV viewers drop from 83% to 23%. Among those watching videos on their computer, recall rates fare slightly better, dropping from 82% to 39%.

It seems like the smaller the device, the lower the impact of multi-tasking has on how well people remember commercials: viewers watching content on their tablets reported ad recall rates of 80% when they’re not distracted, dropping to 43% when they are distracted by another device. On phones, ad recall rates drop from 88% to 57% when paying attention to another screen.

Lower recall rates affect purchasing decisions, and hence have a direct impact on a brand’s ROI. The overall aim of the study, titled “Attention: The New Video Metric,” is to look at the importance of consumer awareness when it comes to video ad planning, not just reach and frequency, according to the AOL report.

Another edge digital video advertising may have over TV when considering the results of this study is consumer targeting: when it comes to ads delivered on their digital devices, 21% of the people polled said the ads running against the content they were watching on their computer seemed relevant, while 25% of tablet viewers and 24% of smartphone viewers agreed the ads fit the programming well. In contrast, 15% of TV viewers said the ads seemed suited to the content they were watching.

But targeting seems to come at a price. Digital video viewers were more likely to feel that the ads they were watching were “intrusive.” According to the study, 69% of people watching video on their computer found the ads to be invasive in some way, and 66% of tablet and 67% of smartphone viewers agreed. Meanwhile, 46% of TV viewers characterized the ads as bring intrusive.

But video advertising across all devices faces similar issues when it comes to skip rates and repetition — 71% of viewers on digital devices (computer, tablet and mobile) said they skip commercials when they are able to, and 76% of TV viewers fast-forward an ad if they can. Repetition is also frustrating for viewers across all platforms, with 83% of smartphone and computer users saying they were frustrated by repetitive ads, compared to 78% of TV viewers.


File photo

About The Author
Melita Kuburas is the editor of StreamDaily. You can reach her directly at press[at] or on Twitter @melitakuburas

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