Ads Viewed During DVR Fast-Forwarding: Worthless or Not?

Categories: Thoughts

Written By

November 3rd, 2008

Like Mr. Gorman, I am a fairly black and white person. But when it comes to the topic of whether there's any value to the ads viewed while fast-forwarding during DVR playback, I think the answer must be, "yes, there is *some* value, but not nearly as much as actually watching the commercial."

Bill and I are less exposed to any of this because unlike the unwashed masses of DVR users, we've programmed our remote controls with 30 second skip buttons. We don't fast-forward, mostly we just zap them altogether. So for us, typically there is zero value to the advertisers because we see almost no ads whatsoever when we do this. But only a small portion of the DVR universe has reprogrammed their remote controls to take advantage of this.

I agree with Bill that we will see studies like this until the business model is completely changed. Then they will vanish. Although I'm not sure that what won't change is the ads themselves, which at least for a while will be more and more designed to entice you to hit "play" while fast-forwarding through them.

But at least for now, traditional advertising isn't going away. Most people still watch TV live for now, and while there's perhaps not much science in measuring the effectiveness of ad buys, there's a lot of science on how to manipulate your brain. My brain, too. And on a lot of levels it's effective. While I don't watch many commercials during DVR playback, I watch a lot of live sports and so, I know the jingles.

  • Five. Five. Five dollah foot long... I know it's Subway. But with or without Jared, I'm not a Subway fan. Still, I know the jingle.
  • Mushrooms wrapped in melted cheese and gentle angus kiss. The sweetest thing from Burger King is new steakhouse shroom and swiss. It's fortunate that there is not a Burger King in the shopping center next to me, that sounds kind of good. So far though, I have avoided it completely. But, I am aware of it.
  • Saved by Zero. I didn't like this song in the early 1980s when The Fixx first released it. I don't like it now. Of all the commercials with jingles, this one may annoy me the most. I'm not going to run out and buy a Toyota, but I do know that they are offering zero percent financing to some, but not all applicants.
  • And then there's Brooke Shields. Ok, so Lipstick Jungle is in the Friday night toilet now, but the Routan Boom commercials featuring the lovely Brooke are funny. Am I going to run out and buy a minivan? No, but...

...the commercials are very effective at making me aware of the product, and much of that effectiveness (except for the glimpsing of the lovely Brooke) is significantly diminished during fast forwarding.

However, I can see because of how the brain works, that at this point, having already seen all of the above commercials live, that even seeing them via fast-forwarding would jog the same neurons in my brain as if I was watching them at normal playback speed. So there's probably as much value for me to see it that way at this point as to see it at normal speed.

I am not a huge consumerist outside of gadgets and I already have all the computers, iPods, iPhones, Xbox360s and PS3s that I need or want. And I'm not seeing very many (OK, any) commercials that say, "OK, your blog has some good traffic, now what?" to reel me in.

But if you're mostly watching TV via DVR, and you're not a huge sports fan that winds up watching a lot of live TV, you won't learn the jingles and you won't see Brooke Shields being abusive to expectant parents, and if that's the case, it seems like most of the value of the ads is lost. Especially for ads for things like movies opening this weekend, that seems very problematic as DVR penetration increases.

It could be that the cost of Super Bowl ads will skyrocket by 10x soon, even if the ratings don't, simply because it might be perceived as the only way to reach anybody under 50 with your message. But I think that's still quite a ways off.

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