Get Online, Advertisers! TV Viewers Are Too Distracted

These days TV viewers are more distracted than ever. According to a new study from YuMe and IPG Media Lab, television viewers seem to be doing everything except watching TV.

Advertisers have always dealt with distracted television viewers—there’s the viewer who leaves the room to make a sandwich during the commercial break, or channel surfs during the ads—but these days TV viewers are more distracted than ever.  According to a new study from YuMe and IPG Media Lab, television viewers seem to be doing everything except watching TV.  They’re using mobile data apps, emailing and chatting with friends on IM, doing work, reading, talking on the phone—you name it.  And 3 out of 4 of them won’t remember any of the advertisements they’ve seen during their TV viewing session.  But wait, advertisers—don’t panic just yet.  You may still have a shot at engaging viewers on the Web.

The YuMe and IPG Media Study, Advertising Attention In The Wild, sought to learn about whether people pay attention to online video differently than they do when they are watching television, and to determine the qualitative and quantitative differences between TV watching and online video watching.  They wondered weather viewers are more distracted on the couch or at their desks.  They found that online video ads garner 18.3% more fully attentive viewers than TV ads.

So what are people being distracted by?  According to the study, the biggest distracter for both television and online viewers was mobile data apps (although TV viewers were the more distracted of the two groups).  TV viewers are also distracted by their DVRs, laptops, books, magazines, phones and more.  Only 6% of television viewers had no distraction while watching television.  On the other hand, 27.1% of online video viewers had no distraction.

So how does the distraction rate impact the likelihood of viewers remembering advertisements?  In the study, only 25% of TV viewers were able to correctly identify an ad that they had seen, while 38% of online video viewers were able to identify the ad.  Help them out a little and 28% of TV viewers could identify the ad while a whopping 50% of online video viewers could identify the ad with help.

In a GigaOM article about the study, Ryan Lawler points out one caveat of the research—it was commissioned by a video ad network that, of course, has an ulterior motive of wanting to make online video advertising look better than TV.  The video that they produced about the study (embedded below) is definitely a bit over the top in the way that the music and announcer portrays the very effective and amazing online video!

That being said, I do think that online video is, by default, a much more engaging platform because of the “in your face” quality of it.  Users’ computers are literally right in front of their faces and it can be pretty hard to get up and make a sandwich during a 15-second pre-roll video spot.  Online video is a lot harder to ignore.  What do you think?  Do you find the statistics surprising or do you find yourself being more engaged with advertising online than you are with television commercials?

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.