Breaking through the binge: How TV ads drive show discovery

Today’s advertisers and content providers must navigate a rapidly expanding entertainment universe. The number of platforms and devices used for consumption is increasing, and new providers are constantly emerging. As viewing methods continue to evolve, the cluttered nature of the entertainment space is only becoming more evident.

To better inform our business strategy and be the best partner possible, Xandr set out to truly understand the consumer journey on show discovery and take the pulse of tune-in. We teamed up with Insight Strategy Group to explore how consumers engage with TV advertising, along with their overall media consumption habits.

Our approach
We collected survey data from 2,000 TV viewers distributed across age, genre and media engagement, and fielded qualitative virtual “Discovery Diaries” among 25 respondents nationwide. In those diaries, we asked consumers to log which shows were in their queue, what recommendations they were receiving from friends and family, what shows they planned to check out, and why they were inspired to watch to determine the motivations for their viewing behavior. We also asked them to photograph ads they felt made an impact and to tell us what about them resonated.

What we found
Contrary to predictions that the $70 billion TV industry is fragmenting, with more dollars moving to digital channels as consumers cut the cord, our findings show that TV never lost its luster. In fact, TV consumption is booming — it’s just a question of how and when viewers are choosing to watch. Roughly two-thirds of adults are consuming over 10 plus hours of content a week, not just through on demand streaming services, but across live and linear TV as well. And of this 10 plus hours of content a week, they’re watching about 5 genres and 8 shows per week.

However, connecting with viewers isn’t as easy and predictable as it used to be. Viewers have more control over when they watch TV shows and aren’t abiding by standard network schedules.

So, with all we know about the fractured viewing environment, how do viewers hear about new shows?

TV advertising drives action & promotes continued viewership
Being exposed to TV advertising promoting a new show encourages viewers to watch, research and share. We asked consumers, “What makes you most likely to tune into a show?” regardless of channel or platform. 80 percent of respondents said that seeing a TV ad makes them more likely to watch a show, while 70 percent said seeing a TV ad inspires them to do more research on a show.

TV advertising for shows is able to drive these key behaviors because it’s perceived as being more reputable than other channels, and is oftentimes most influential on the final decision to tune-in. 80 percent of respondents said that seeing a TV ad for a show makes them more likely to watch it, and 79 percent of those who watched a new show said that the TV ad they saw was the most influential of all ads they saw across channels.

Further, viewers are more likely to continue tuning in when they see ads as relevant, trustworthy and informative.

By taking these findings into account, and deploying effective promotion, advertisers can begin leveraging TV advertising in a meaningful way that leads to increased audience engagement and continued viewership.

Advertisers must act early & often
Viewers learn about and consider shows well in advance of tuning in. 72 percent of respondents said they are first exposed to a show at least two weeks before they watch, and 56 percent said they first consider watching a show at least a couple of weeks before they watch.

Viewers create & crave binge-watching moments
We also sought to understand how consumers are binge-watching content across a variety of platforms, and asked them how many hours they typically spend watching a show when they binge-watch. We found consumers seek out and create opportunities (save or bookmark shows) to maximize their content experience and time, averaging about 5.5 hours per binge-watch session. Moreover, 82 percent of respondents reported that they finish the show within a week when binge-watching.

What’s next?
In a world where viewers are inundated with choice and new demands on their attention, TV advertising plays a pivotal role by providing a service — helping viewers maximize their time by minimizing complexity.

TV advertising is a popular and memorable form of exposure for both new and returning shows. That said, viewers are most often using a combination of platforms to consume content, with two thirds of viewers reported consuming content both linearly and digitally.

Consumers are relying on multiple moments of exposure to determine whether to invest their time and attention. Advertising on TV helps shows stand out in viewers’ minds and gives them confidence that a show is worthy of their time investment. And in this content economy, time is currency.

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