Branded Content in the Age of the DVR

The DVR hit the market and was intended to enable viewers to skip commercials. This is really a function of fast forwarding through content that is of no interest, including commercials. From a TV networks perspective, this potentially undermines television’s longtime ad supported business model. This debate has been raging since the DVR first came on the market. Early on, it was seen as the death nail of broadcast advertising. But, with the recent release of Nielsen's report on DVR usage, things seem to have swung in the direction of the advertiser. This is what the report indicates:

Nielsen Report: link
Once a novelty, the digital video recorder is now in 38 percent of U.S. homes, and its increasing popularity represents both a blessing and a challenge for the TV and advertising industries. On the one hand, DVRs enable TV networks to hold on to viewers who use timeshifting to watch their favorite shows when it is convenient for them and who might otherwise seek alternate ways to watch programming – or not watch at all. On the other hand, DVRs allow viewers to skip content that doesn’t interest them, including commercials, potentially undermining TV’s longtime ad-supported business model. In its latest report on DVR usage, The Nielsen Company highlighted a number of key findings, including:
  • Viewers do watch commercials on their DVRs. Among DVR homes, playback lifts commercial ratings by 44% among 18-49s after three days. Among all 18-49 year-old viewers DVR playback adds 16% to commercial ratings after three days
  • More than 38% of DVR users are over age 45.
  • When DVR playback is included, DVR households watch more primetime programming than non-DVR households.
  • Overall, 49% of time-shifted primetime broadcast programming is played back the same day it was recorded, and 88% is played back within 3 days.
  • DVR playback peaks at 9pm and 10pm.
Now does Nielsen have a bios, because in seeking to demonstrate that DVRs weren’t assaulting the ad supported television business model they posed a rather ridiculous question. That question seemingly was “Does anyone watch any TV commercials during DVR playback?” Are you kidding me? How asinine! Of course people do. It's just a matter of how much they watch or pay attention to the message. This brings up a perfect case. I was just over at a friends house and did not know he had a DVR until suddenly the commercials were flying by. Interesting I thought, since I was thinking about writing this article. Now, he is very tech savvy and upon questioning him I discovered some interesting data. He did on occasion let the commercials play, but while multitasking. When he got up to get something from the kitchen or jump on Facebook or do some other online activity the commercials rolled. But, when you finished, he immediately starting buzzing right past the commercials.

The longer people have DVRs, the more adept they become at using features such as fast-forwarding through commercials. And as they become adept, they use those feature more often. And as more and more users acquire DVRs, ad skipping will become a far larger issue for networks. This will be an ever increasing problem for broadcasters and not the diminishing one represented in the Nielsen Report.

The more I read about the DVR and the problems it presents for advertisers, the more I smile. Why, you might ask? This goes along with what I have been saying for years. In order to avoid being dropped into a commercial slot during a program and maybe skipped over, why not integrate your message directly into the program. Make it contextual and present it in a more receptive fashion. I know, you are probably saying it is very expensive and difficult coordinating with TV production companies. Alas, there exist the niche and very targeted sports film industry. You can brand this type of content any way you choose and still keep the audience engaged.

Full Throttle Media has long been advocating for and developing more creative concepts to reach audiences in the convergent world we are living in. TV, print and online are colliding and forever changing the way companies can and should deliver their messages. You have to engage and entertain, rather than approach with a hard sell. The sophistication of advertising methods and techniques has advanced, enticing and shaping and even creating consumerism and needs where there has been none before. Film is one of the most elaborate examples yet of the intersection of the entertainment and advertising industries, with the Internet and other new media shaping up as the main distribution crossroad. I see a more elaborate technique, such as a short films where the aim is to sell a product but to cleverly do the advertising in a subtle way. These films can be very entertaining and exciting, but also promote a product behind the main theme.

One of the biggest benefits of embracing film is the longevity the format offers. They do not show once or twice and then disappear. Films are watched over and over and the is no chance your brand message will be DVR'd out. Think about it.

Share the experience, sell the dream...Full Throttle Media! FTM Seth Horne