Study: TV Spots Work Better Online

NEW YORK TV spots shown during programming on the Web resonate far better with viewers than the same 30-second ads on TV, thanks to the Internet’s lack of clutter and more attentive (if much smaller) audience, according to a new study by Millward Brown.

The research firm recruited more than 3,000 viewers to watch a network TV show on alternate platforms, pitting Web video ads against the same show on TV. The study found that, compared to live TV, Web spots increased the viewer attention rate by 53 percent, awareness by 52 percent, consideration by 27 percent and favorability by 26 percent. Prompted recall of brand advertising was four times higher for Web viewers.

Despite their reputation for ADD-like clicking, Web users were more likely to lock in on video: Shows online retained 68 percent of their audience during breaks, compared to 59 percent on TV. Branding was further aided by networks typically running only a single advertiser online, but several on TV.

“You’re looking at a 30-second ad, not a four-minute pod,” said Millward Brown vp Mike Ripka. “You’ll sit around for 30 seconds, so you’re highly engaged with the advertising.”

But Ripka is not about to counsel clients to spill their TV budgets into Web video. Grey’s Anatomy attracts over 18 million viewers weekly, while all of got just 9 million last month, per Nielsen//NetRatings. “We don’t get the scale,” said Jordan Bitterman, a media director at Digitas, “[but] I can get the people watching Grey’s Anatomy in other ways [online].”

And Web-run spots, which play an average of three times per episode, risk annoying viewers exposed repeatedly to the same message. “That could wear out an ad very quickly,” Ripka said.

Millward Brown’s futures marketing group conducted the study as part of its captive TV/video viewing research series. To complete the study, it linked up with ABC, NBC and Fox; three undisclosed national advertisers; and Digitas, Magna Global and GroupM.