DRTV Has the Answers for the
By Timothy R. Hawthorne
Advertiser studies that measure how digital
video recorders (DVRs) hurt their TV campaigns have delivered mixed results, but it’s
common sense that viewers will breeze past
commercials if provided easy methods to do so. For three
years, Information Resources Inc. has researched the most
critical response to DVR-enabled ad skipping: the sales of
While TiVo households purchased five-percent fewer
newly introduced products than did non-DVR homes, five
percent isn’t nearly the catastrophe that marketers have
dreaded. Then again, DVR penetration remains modest
( 23 percent according to Nielsen), but it’s growing (up
from 13 percent in 2006).
Advertisers should address their concerns proactively.
The first temptation is to fight technology with technology — exemplified by BlackArrow’s plan to display static
ads when DVR users hit the pause button. But technological solutions designed to circumvent choice rarely endure.
The winning strategies will be familiar ones: precision
media buying and innovative creative.
Information Resources’ J.P. Beauchamp says that
multichannel ad buys eliminate purchasing differences between TiVo and non-DVR homes.
“Diversify or die,” he concludes. A spot’s position
in an ad pod also affects impact — the least-
skipped spots are the first and the last.
Carat’s Mitch Oscar suggests that the last
is optimal because fast-forwarding viewers are
extra attentive to not overshoot the points
where their programs resume. Advertisers can
also implement creative lessons gleaned from
an NBC biometric study that proved viewers
retain details from spots they fast-forward.
Recall is best for creatives that display static
scenes and that center the graphics, logo
ingly simple: employ DRTV tactics. TiVo’s Stop Watch
data revealed that three of the four least fast-forwarded
campaigns last April were direct response ads. That’s
music to direct response marketers’ ears, but it’s important
to understand why:
1. DRTV emphasizes offers. It’s human nature to want
to know what things cost. Make this apparent and
people will pause for a peek. Equally important,
numbers convey messages visually. Ad-skipping
viewers can’t hear.
2. Relevant content suppresses program flight. If the
first Food Network ad you see promotes cookware,
you’re still focusing on food — the content you
elected to watch. Positioning advertising as content
is a trendy recommendation, but decades of response data prove that it works.
3. While many characterize DVRs as a new threat,
DRTV history suggests otherwise. A TiVo enhanc-
es consumer control, but the now ubiquitous TV
remote was once revolutionary for much
the same reason. In essence,
channel surfing is cruising
through content until
arresting grabs your
you to put down the
remote and just watch.
The similar DVR
dynamic just occurs
at a much faster pace.
Consumers skip fewer
direct response spots be-
cause DRTV formulas make
each second count; success
demands interrupting viewers’
inclination to move quickly to
Marketers of America, relax.
Don’t fear the DVR — accept it as
a manageable challenge. And if you
need a little help with transitioning,
your friendly neighborhood DRTV agen-
cies stand ready, willing and able. ■