Business as Usual: Disagreeing with Gorman
I'm jumping over to the dark side and siding with Les Moonves and other TV Network wonks on the effectiveness of ads on the DVR.
Gorman and I are both vastly geeky users when it comes to DVR usage and have reprogrammed a button on our DVR remotes to skip over commercials 30 seconds at a time. This, I believe, is not the case for a vast majority of DVR users who mostly do see the commercials at an accelerated pace via fast-forwarding.
A Millward-Brown study in January 2007 which researched commercial effectiveness "Live vs. DVR" found the effectiveness almost identical. In fact, in the category of "Aided Brand Favorably", time-shifted viewing via DVR actually came out a little ahead.
NBC/Innerscope did a "Bio-Physiological" study in 2007 and its key findings were interesting. Sure, they pulled out "science", but I think it will work with swaying key advertisers. The study showed via biometric data that viewers are as engaged with commercials when they are fast-forwarded as those who view the commercials live. Further, it found, according to the "eye gaze" data that most viewers actively scan commercials, look at brand logos all while following the main action. The Millward-Brown study on recall seems to confirm these results.
By the way, the same studies found that 87% of DVR users regularly fast forwarded through commercials, but that is not the same as "skipping" them entirely as Bill and I do. Not surprisingly 82% of the respondents claimed to regularly pay close attention while fast-forwarding through commercials, but were doing so not to miss the return of the program.
While the jury is still out for me personally on advertising effectiveness via DVR, I would agree most people are probably watching the ads, albeit via fast-forwarding. No doubt the nets will continue to pull out all the stops research wise to assuage advertisers fears and cash in on DVR viewers. Until someone does research indicating that advertising is not as effective via DVR, I believe the nets can pull it off.
It may well be that it's the "skip button" functionality and not the DVR itself that becomes the # one enemy of television networks and advertisers. I suspect this is the reason such functionality doesn't show up on DVR's by default. Tivo and Comcast's DVRs do not have this functionality by default, though it is easy enough to program in by geeks like Bill and myself.
Microsoft's Media Center does have the 30 second skip button by default, but I have to imagine there are far fewer users of Media Centers as DVRs than there are Tivo users, and Tivo only has 20% (and slipping) of the DVR installed base.