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Engaging Shows Appear To Pay Off For Sponsors

Nielsen says it has proven the notion that buying a commercial in a more engaging show will result in more sales for the advertiser.

Engagement has been a buzzword in the ad business for years. In the past, some networks have even offered advertisers guarantees that their shows would score high in engagement because it was thought people engrossed in a show will also absorb more of the marketers’ message as well.

Now Nielsen says that a recent study found “a strong relationship” between the intensity of a viewer’s engagement with program content and their next-day ability to also remember the content of ads aired during the program.

“For every 2 percentage point improvement a viewer’s program engagement,” the research company says, “Advertisers can (on average) expect a 1 percentage point improvement in sustained ad memorability.”

A second Nielsen study of consumer package good ads found that the percentage of consumers with sustained next day memory of an ad is a strong indicator of the ad’s in-market sales impact. When other factors are taken out of the equation, more memorable ads drive more incremental volume, Nielsen said.

“For publishers, the clear connection of program engagement and ad memorability reinforces the idea that some content deserves a higher price tag. And, for advertisers and agencies, they should be thinking beyond creative execution to placement,” Joe Stagaman, executive VP, ad effectiveness analytics at Nielsen, said in a new blog post. . “Since sustained ad memorability is directly tied to sales results, the impact on return on investment is very real.”

But a look at the fine print shows things are not that simple. “Program engagement is just one of many factors that affect an ad’s ability to break through the clutter and drive consumer reaction,” Nielsen says

For one thing, it’s more important to have a memorable ad than buying time in a memorable show. “While the quality and engagement of a program can boost an ad’s performance, bad ads will still be trumped by the best ads-even if they run in the most engaging program,” Nielsen said.

And the relationship between program engagement and ad memorability changes depending on daypart, type of ad and type of network.

Nielsen won’t provide more details. It lists some shows found to be “highly engaging” primetime dramas-NBC’s Parenthood, Fox’s The Following,” CBS’ Elementary, ABC’s Revenge, and The CW’s Arrow-but wouldn’t respond to questions about which shows are the most engaging shows on each network.

Nielsen also did not respond to questions about whether comedies are more engaging than dramas or a request to provide an example showing how much more sales were generated by an ad running in a highly engaging show versus a not-so-engaging show.