Who is watching? Nearly a third of television commercials are broadcast

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ITHACA, NY – Paying thousands of dollars to advertise on TV is a huge proposition – never more so than for the Super Bowl, for which 30-second TV spots this year will cost advertisers up to $6.5 million of dollars. Unlike Super Bowl commercials, which are among the most high-profile commercials, a new study from Cornell University shows that almost a third of television commercials are shown in empty rooms.

Advertising pricing is based on measuring the number of TVs tuned to a specific channel, not whether people actually watch the TVs.

“We wanted to quantify whether the current industry standard is doing a good job predicting what advertisers are interested in,” said lead author Jura Liaukonyte, associate professor at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

For this research, the co-authors worked with TVision Insights, a TV performance measurement company that has developed innovative technology to passively monitor who’s in the room and whether they’re actually watching what’s on the TV screen. , while respecting the privacy of viewers. analyzed 4 million ad exposures in a year.

Their findings, including that almost a third of television commercials are shown in empty rooms and that viewers are four times more likely to leave the room than to change channels, are detailed in “How tuning, viewers’ presence and attention respond to advertising content”. and Predict Brand Search Lift”, published on February 9 in Marketing science.

Among other findings, the team found that ad viewing behaviors vary by channel, time of day, program genre, age, and gender. For example, older viewers are more likely to avoid ads when changing channels; younger viewers are more likely to avoid commercials by leaving the room or diverting their visual attention – likely due to multitasking with a second screen.

Additionally, ads for recreational products — beer and video games, for example — do the best to retain viewers, the researchers said. Among the worst to keep your eyes on the screen are ads for prescription drugs, especially those that address serious illnesses.

The Super Bowl, of course, is a different animal than any other show in the realm of television advertising, the researchers said.

“It’s become a bit like the Oscars for the advertising industry,” Liaukonyte said.

For more information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

Cornell University has dedicated television and audio studios available for media interviews supporting Full HD, ISDN, and Web platforms.

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