Researchers at The Council for Research Excellence recently concluded that some TV watchers do, in fact, stay in the room during commercial breaks. Or, as they put it, “Most TV Viewers Do Not Leave the Room or Even Change Channels During Commercial Breaks.” The CRE highlights select results to conclude that viewers stay put because they’re captivated by what the ad spots have to offer. The truth, more likely, is that these couch potatoes are patiently waiting for their favorite show to resume, engaging with other humans or other media, or are just too lazy to press fast forward on their DVR remote, let alone leave the room. Thankfully, Ilya over at the excellent AdLab has weighed in to help make some sense of the data.
Drawing from the CRE data as well as other findings, Ilya deduces that at most, some 20% of the folks parked in front of the tube during commercial breaks aren’t doing anything else notable—and therefore might be giving advertisers their undivided attention. This is confirmed by a study released in 2008 which found that only 5.5% of viewers fully attend to commercials. The rest of us are channel surfing, talking to others, or mentally tuning out.
This all amounts to something we’ve all suspected for quite some time: TV ads just ain’t cuttin’ it anymore. Sure, there are some excellent spots being created, but advertising on television has become an unnecessary evil, increasingly phased out by Tivo, DVR, Netflix, and various legal (and illegal) web streams offering few, if any pesky placements.
The examples of active post-advertising we cover here offer an altogether different experience to ad-damaged consumers—an approach that’ll one day be the standard. Old, emboldened ad-execs can comfort themselves with skewed, industry-funded results all they want, but their denial will eventually give way to overdue acceptance. Until then, we’re just gonna grab something real quick from the kitchen. Maybe go to the bathroom.