TV Viewers of Lifestyle and News Programming Are More Likely to Watch Ads in Real Time

Networks, ad buyers use new technologies to measure attentiveness

Viewers proved much more attentive to The Weather Channel than than its cable news competition. Sources: Getty Images, The Weather Channel
Headshot of A.J. Katz

We’re living in a dramatically complicated media world. People are easily distracted, with multiple devices at their fingertips seemingly 24/7. So how can media buyers assure their clients that their spots are being consumed the way they want them to be, and how can TV networks ensure a strong relationship with their advertisers?

Some up-and-coming technologies can measure TV advertising attention data. One such company is TVision Insights, which uses a small computer-vision device placed on top of television sets. The device’s infrared technology tracks who’s in the room, when and for how long. The company aggregates all 2,000 homes in its panel and can look at where and when people are paying attention to the TV screen.

“Measurement on TV has been broken for a while,” said TVision Insights CRO and co-founder Dan Schiffman. “Ratings don’t lead to outcomes, but attention does. How we think about measurement is based on opportunity to see. Looking at attention is a great way to monetize and drive outcomes.”

The Weather Channel is a major client of TVision’s, and Schiffman said his company has done two analyses with the network: one related to duration and the other to attentiveness.

“We found that typical Weather Channel viewer paid double-digit percent more time and attention to a typical commercial than the cable news competition,” Schiffman said.

As to why, Weather Channel’s svp of programming Nora Zimmett said, “Weather is the ultimate live reality show, and people become invested in weather even when they’re not in harm’s way.”

“Over past 54 days, we have had three massive hurricanes and we have seen Americans lose lives and homes,” she said. “What that has done, it has pulled people to the network not only to see what’s happening, but also to see if they’re in harm’s way. This brings a new level of engagement and a personal investment and commitment to watching the meteorologists on camera, people who they trust.”

Zimmett said the network is also seeing “huge increases in time spend viewing,” including ads “viewed in real time.”

The lifestyle-focused Scripps Networks is where people turn to get away from the news. Like TWC, it’s a company that’s using new technologies to measure ad attentiveness.

“We’re showing our value to advertisers through our work with Nielsen, having them tap into neuroscience and emotional engagement to determine which TV genres capture the greatest ad attentiveness,” said Scripps Networks svp of ad sales marketing and branded entertainment Laura Galietta.

Galietta said data shows unscripted programming is 94 percent more effective at attracting viewers’ attention to ads than other genres.

“Until we engaged in neuroscience study, we couldn’t prove ad attentiveness,” she said. “Now, we can.”

At least one media buyer is also using advanced data to measure ad attentiveness, Horizon Media director of video investment David Campanelli, who said that media measurement service Magid has helped Horizon figure out whether viewers see, engage with and pay attention to ads.

“Nielsen ratings can only get you so far,” he said, later adding, “”[Magid surveys] thousands of people who map emotional qualifiers on programming. We match them with our advertisers’ attributes. … Simply put, we want to connect our brand with appropriate programs.”


@ajkatztv aj.katz@adweek.com A.J. Katz is the senior editor of Adweek's TVNewser.