Fox Makes Multiplatform Case

Television is much more emotionally engaging than online advertising. But combining the two provides maximum brand equity, especially if the Web content is related to the TV experience, according to a new study that is part of Fox Broadcasting’s upfront presentation.

As video and other forms of rich media proliferate on the Web, the Internet has been growing as an advertising vehicle. Some Web companies hold presentations in May, looking to collect upfront dollars. With marketers looking to advertise on multiple platforms, television has been pushed to demonstrate the role it plays in persuading consumers to buy products.

“This helps to give evidence that the best way to go about it is to be in both places,” says Toby Byrne, president of ad sales at Fox Broadcasting. “And neither one is as strong independently. TV is strong independently. Online is not as strong independently, but overall they are enhanced when they work off each other with similar content. This is interesting to us, because our content is now available in several places.”

Byrne adds that most of the partnerships Fox does with advertisers include an online execution.

The new study was conducted by Innerscope, which does biometric research to see how people react to different forms of advertising.

“Innerscope strongly believes that unconscious emotional responses direct attention, enhance learning and memory, and ultimately drive behaviors that our clients care about,” says Carl D. Marci, CEO and chief science officer at Innerscope, a research company that works with networks, agencies and clients.

In its study, Innerscope put viewers in a living room setting. A device in the TV set tracked the movement of their eyeballs to see what they were paying attention to, while a special belt collected data about their heartbeats, sweat levels, respiration and movement.

Innerscope used the data it collected to measure the emotional engagement of the viewers while watching advertising on both TV and the Web. “We really define engagement very specifically as attention to something that emotionally impacts you,” Marci says.

Innerscope also followed that up by seeing how the advertising exposure changed viewers’ unconscious response to those brands afterwards.

The company did two tests. One simply compared viewer reaction to ads for the same brands on both TV and the Web. The people recruited were fans of the Fox shows—Glee and Family Guy—that were used in the test.

The study also compared what happened when viewers saw commercials on TV, then went on the Web and saw ads for the same brands there. Some of the viewers saw the ads on Fox Websites, others on general information sites.

“We were able to see that when they see [the ad] on TV first and then online, they’re basically leaning in more toward the content of these ads when they’re online, their hearts are beating a little more, their sweat levels are up to show more excitement,” says Brian Levine, president and chief innovation officer at Innerscope.

Experiencing ads on TV was 38 times more engaging than the online ads. The engagement with the advertising led to three times more brand resonance after watching TV than seeing the ads while surfing the Web, Levine says.

When the same ads were seen both on TV and on a general information Website, engagement was stronger—41 times the Web only—but brand resonance was little changed. But when the Web ads were on a site related to the show, engagement was 48 times higher and the effect on the brand jumped four times higher.

“We were not surprised that television was much stronger when you do that head-tohead,” says Marci, describing TV as an immersive, emotional experience, where the Web experience is more flexible with the viewer having more control over what he pays attention to. “The focus of this study was what happens when you combine them, because in many cases, they are combined. And that’s where we saw that television enhanced the experience online and then that carried over to this brand equity that happens after the fact.”

Fox has worked with Innerscope before, but that research was aimed at tweaking integrated campaigns for specific clients, says Audrey Steele, senior VP, sales research and marketing at Fox Broadcasting.

“I was really interested in this because it dovetails with the work that we’ve been doing to support that TV is the place that creates and builds brand equity and that we can extend it online. So we jumped into it and supported this study,” Steele says.

The new study also allowed Fox to take a scientific look at “how the brain responds to branding messages in one medium versus the other and how they can be best leveraged to work together,” Steele says.

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Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.