Tablet, smartphone users ignore TV ads

People who use personal devices such as tablets and smartphones at the same time as watching TV are ignoring television commercials almost completely, according to new research published by the Strategy Analytics Digital Home Observatory. The report, “Multi-Screen User Behaviours in the Home,” identifies reasons why multiscreen users shift their focus between devices and how this varies according to the type of television content viewed. For example, high impact scenes on television screen can divert user attention away from personal devices, while television advertising diverts attention toward them.

“Simultaneous use of several screens is a behaviour that is being readily adopted and has quickly become the main way that early adopters choose to experience watching TV,” says Caroline Park, Senior Analyst and the report’s author. “Multiscreen users very rarely concentrate solely on a television show in its entirety, and while this presents challenges to the TV industry, it also offers new opportunities for viewer engagement.”

The study also found that TV ad breaks have an impact on casual games played on personal devices. Survey participants noted that they preferred games which didn’t take long to complete, or which were not time-dependent, so that they could fit their games activity into the ad breaks.

“Understanding when and how `focus shifts’ between the TV and personal devices occur is key to delivering a superior multi-screen user experience, as well as providing an opportunity to retain the attention of viewers on advertising,” concludes Park.

This ethnographic study presents the findings of twelve in-home observations of individuals who actively engage with multiple personal devices within the home setting while watching TV. The observations and semi-structured interviews were carried out with consumers in the US and UK in August 2011.

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