Skip to main content

CRE: TV Outperforms Digital in Total Ad Recall

A study unveiled by the Council for Research Excellence shows that TV watchers pay more attention to advertisements than their digital counterparts.

According to the study, conducted by Hub Entertainment Research, 62% of TV viewers were able to recall half or more of advertisers, followed by tablet (47%), smartphone (46%) and computer (45%) users. For attentiveness, another key measure of engagement, 29% of participants rated TV an 8-10 on a 10-point scale where 10 means complete attention, ahead of smartphone (23%), computer (20%) and tablet (17%).  

Platform experience is related to actual screen size. Independent of other factors, the viewing experience was significantly more positive among TV viewers, with 89% of participants rated TV an 8-10 on a 10-point scale for enjoyment, followed by tablet (63%), computer (54%) and smartphone (53%).  

The study also found that multi-tasking adversely impacts engagement with ads but not with the plot of the show being watched. In addition, the study found that only a small percentage of multi-tasking – about 7% to 11% -- during ads was related to the brands being featured in those spots.

"Our study indicates that the television set is not only the most enjoyable of viewing platforms, but that its strength extends to the diagnostics of ad engagement," said AMC Networks SVP of research and CRE Media Consumption and Engagement Committee chair Tom Ziangas in a statement. "It appears that in the world of ad engagement and recall, size really does matter. The challenge for content providers is to find ways to leverage the more personal experience viewers have with smaller screens."

The CRE research was presented at the Nielsen Consumer 360 event by Joe Abruzzo, former chair of the CRE's Media Consumption and Engagement Committee, and Joanne Burns, a former member of the committee.

"The fact that viewers were equally engaged with program content, regardless of screen, suggests that there’s nothing inherent in the device itself that makes them less likely to pay attention to ads,” said Hub Entertainment Research principal Peter Fondulas in a statement. “The more likely culprit for the lower ad engagement on smaller screens is an ad delivery approach that doesn’t align well with the expectations, and viewing situations, of consumers watching on mobile devices."

Hub Entertainment Research recruited a nationwide sample of persons aged 16-54 for the study. Respondents watched one show on one targeted platform; show content and ads were identical across all four types of platforms and 1,968 people completed a 15-minute online post-viewing survey measuring levels of enjoyment, attention and emotional response, as well as show and ad recall utilizing questions provided by Nielsen Brand Effect. The sample was weighted for show, age and gender. Shows viewed were "Bones," "Family Guy," "The Big Bang Theory," "Survivor" and "Family Feud."