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Watchwith Study Finds Kids Dig In-Show Ads

Young viewers prone to skipping traditional TV commercials might be more receptive to ads superimposed on-screen while a show is airing.

Watchwith, a company working with Fox and NBCUniversal that enables overlay ads, commissioned a study by Frank N. Magid Associates that confirms the effectiveness of the in-program messaging. The study found that among 18 to 24 year olds, an eight-second in-program ad for Buick had a 20% unaided ad recall, compared to 8% for a 30-second spot. More than half the 18 to 24 year olds remembered seeing an in-program ad.

During the test, in-program ads appeared in episodes of Gotham and other Fox shows as well as in Bravo's Best New Retaurant.

Young viewers who grew up with DVRs are used to skipping commercials. "They’re multitaskers who don’t want their show impeded," says Zane Vella, founder of Watchwith. While in-program ads are intrusive, they aren’t interruptive, and that's okay with 20-somethings. “They understand that advertising is how things get paid for,” Vella says. “There’s not a fundamental problem with advertising. What people hate is wasting time and being blocked from what you want to watch.”

Among adults 18 to 49, the more traditional ad demographic, most metrics were higher for in program ads than traditional spots during the test, including brand familiarity (44% versus 34%) and intent to purchase (40% versus 36%). Younger viewers are also more likely to recognize the interactive elements in the in-program ads, compared to 47% of those in the 18 to 49 year-old demo.

According to the study, 70% of the 18 to 24 year old recognized when the ads were interactive. “The younger they are, the more they expect that,” Vella says. “This is the future we’re living in, and we’re only going to live in it more.”

Vella says the interactive experience also happens as the show continues running, which is important to programmers who want to hold onto their audience and not have them migrate on line and possibly not return to the show they were watching.

The study found that 54% of 18 to 24 year olds are more likely to watch other episodes of a show if there are in-program ads. The results of the study were not unexpected by Watchwith. “It’s a lot of what people’s gut feeling would be,” Vella says. “But in this day and age, you can’t just go with your gut. People really need the data.”

The study is available here.

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.