& cplSiteName &

Facebook: Sync Content With TV Ads to Catch Wandering Eyeballs

Aditya Kishore
7/14/2017
50%
50%

A study commissioned by Facebook IQ found that 94% of US TV viewers kept a smartphone close by while viewing television, making it nearly ubiquitous. This is important because it means that media multitasking, i.e., using both the TV and the smartphone to consume content, is happening nearly simultaneously.

The Facebook study was run in four US cities. A hundred participants were asked to wear eye-tracking glasses, and Facebook IQ analyzed the data from those that chose to view TV. The glasses tracked viewers' eye movements, and found that on average they were solely focused on the TV screen for about half the time (53%) they viewed the program.

The remaining 47% of their time was spent performing housekeeping tasks such as folding laundry and cooking dinner. These were followed by usage of smartphones, laptops and other devices. As you would imagine, commercial breaks were when disengagement from the TV content peaked. Facebook's research found that on average, those viewing a TV ad "disengaged during a third of the commercial breaks, usually about 2.5 seconds into the first ad. And three-quarters of the time, people who disengaged from the TV ad content turned to their smartphones."

In a prior study, Facebook analyzed data from 1 million Facebook users while they were viewing the premiere of a popular cable TV drama, and found that smartphone usage could ramp up as much as three times during ad breaks.

Facebook's research has found that millennials (18-34) spent more time using mobile devices last year than viewing TV. It also found that light TV viewers are likely to be younger (with an average age of 27) than heavy viewers (with an average age of 48).

Facebook argues that the best solution for advertisers now is to deliver targeted video advertising synchronized with the TV commercial on Facebook and Instagram. It also recommends focusing more on the audio component of the commercial as viewers will still be listening to the audio even if they are looking elsewhere.

The second argument makes sense, but I'm not so sure about the first. Viewers are more likely to be scanning their Facebook page because they are disengaged from the commercial. Putting it on Facebook is unlikely to suddenly engage them, even if there is a (not always successful) attempt to make it more targeted and relevant.

However, related text and graphics content on the Facebook page might work, because a quick scan is probably what fits better with the mindset of the viewer at that time. And if there is a connection with the TV audio, it might even drive viewers to look at the TV commercial, though that does sound a bit optimistic.

The logistics for this are complex -- being able to determine which ad is playing when, what kind of targeted message works and even how it will affect the channel's ability to sell in advertising. For example, if a viewer is engaged with the first commercial in the pod, then he/she is not going to pay attention to the next one. That advertiser will not be keen to pay the same amount as the first, or may not want to buy the slot at all.

Ultimately, I think we have all known for decades that viewers disengage during commercial breaks, but TV advertising continues to rack up billions of dollars. Upfront sales this year were estimated to bring in $9 billion for broadcasters, for example. And even Facebook's study found that viewers were more likely to be folding laundry and cooking dinner than using their smartphone while viewing TV -- tasks they have been performing long before smartphones and the Internet were even invented.

It's important to remember this because, from an advertiser's point of view, maybe this behavior isn't that disruptive. In a sense, smartphone usage is just replacing short errands or having a conversation with a family member -- and not necessarily affecting viewing of a TV commercial. That distraction has been factored in by advertisers, it's just seen as a limitation of a medium that they believe still delivers value for them regardless. (See Broadcast Still Pulls in Advertising Dollars.)

Broadcast advertising has been described as "spray and pray" -- just get your message on the air and hope for the best. And in aggregate, it appears to have worked because advertisers keep coming back to it despite a broad range of alternatives. Perhaps that can't be sustained for much longer, with newer behaviors and viewership shifts, but advertisers have proven to be stubbornly loyal to the 30-second TV commercial. Change will come slowly, and only when the benefits of alternatives are clear and substantial, and the business and technological requirements across an unwieldy value chain have been ironed out.

— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
242ak
50%
50%
242ak,
User Rank: Moderator
7/17/2017 | 6:42:55 AM
Re: Background
danielcawrey - I wonder if we have also just become either better at multitasking or just used to a constant state of distraction, where we can't focus on anything for long periods. TV shows have stretches where not too much is happening, where the mind wanders and the smartphone is an easy option. But as the show picks up, we can get back to it because we're still tracking the narrative via audio. And with a high penetration of DVRs, we can just rewind if we miss something important. 

 
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/16/2017 | 3:23:09 PM
Background
Television has truly become a background entertainment medium. 

Some of the problem is advertising. Many people lose attention as soon as there is a commercial break, leading them to laptops and smartphones. 
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
MWC 2018 Threatens to Be 5G New Radio Bore
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/10/2018
Sprint Says No to mmWave, Yes to Mobile 5G
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/11/2018
Altice USA Embraces Home-Alone Strategy
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 1/11/2018
Huawei, ZTE Face US Federal Ban
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/15/2018
Ericsson Lurches to $1.8B Write-Down
Iain Morris, News Editor, 1/16/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed