Study: Consumers welcome ads in CTV environments
March 21, 2023
Yahoo and Publicis Media have published a study, CTV Ad Attention & Receptiveness, aimed at answering important questions, including:
- Does CTV ad attention and receptiveness vary by environment, such as time of day, seasonality, streaming application, genre, and contextual relevance?
- How do consumers respond to different executional strategies, such as ad length/type, pod position, frequency and recency, and demographic targeting?
- How can advertisers plan smarter CTV campaigns that optimise attention, enhance receptiveness, and determine best creative practices?
To address these questions, Yahoo and Publicis Media employed a dual-methodology approach, using both Big Data research and a Consumer Research approach. The Big Data research involved facial recognition and ACR data to capture attention metrics, analysing 66,000 ads across four CTV ad environments, 1.3 million impressions, 5,000 households, and 15,000 individuals in 25 DMAs. This data was supplied by TVision. Additionally, the Consumer Research Approach included qualitative interviews and feedback, as well as a quantitative survey of 1,000 adult CTV consumers, which was executed by Open Mind Strategy.
The study further investigated four ad-supported streaming app types: paid-subscription-based services that were either Hybrid (Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock, Discovery+, Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video) or vMVPD (FuboTV, YouTubeTV, Sling, Philo, DirecTV Stream), and non-subscription-based streaming apps that were either FAST (Tubi, Pluto, Roku, Crackle, Vudu, Xumo) or Smart TV FAST Channels (Amazon Freevee, Vizio’s WatchFree, Samsung TV Plus, LG Channels).
Key findings from the in-depth research include:
Ad Attention and Receptiveness in the CTV Landscape
Overall, the study found that consumers recognise the role of advertising in making less expensive programming possible and generally welcome ads in CTV environments. In fact, 46 per cent of respondents said they would rather pay less and receive some ads when adding a new streaming service. Additionally, 82 per cent of CTV viewers expect ads on free streaming services, and 7 out of 10 AVOD users report being at least somewhat satisfied with their CTV ad experience. Moreover, a significant percentage of respondents found ads to be useful, with 56 per cent agreeing that ads and commercials provide them with useful information.
CTV is a multimedia channel encompassing both sight and sound. 53 per cent of consumers reported frequently having CTV on in the background while they do other things. Most likely due to the tendency for many to have CTV on in the background, the study showed that only a third of CTV ads receive two or more seconds of active consumer attention. However, 81 per cent still noted that they heard the audio even if their eyes weren’t on the screen. Knowing consumers are not always fully tuned in, the research further investigated how advertisers can optimise attention and receptivity to advertising.
Optimising to Get Attention and Receptiveness
Previous studies have found that half of the time spent consuming linear TV happens between 6-10pm. Yahoo and Publicis Media found that, while CTV ad attention is highest during Prime Time, peaks of attention occur during the early and late morning periods.
Yahoo’s and Publicis Media’s study also revealed that ad attention is higher for more ‘intentional’ paid subscription services. Viewers tend to pay more attention to ads on applications that are paid or subscription-based, particularly vMVPDs such as YouTube TV, FuboTV, and Sling, as well as hybrid services such as Hulu, HBO Max, and Paramount+ where there is more intent behind programming choice.
The research indicates that while viewers tend to pay more attention to ads in subscription-based applications, ad attention still varies across all app types. Some apps, such as Xumo and the Roku Channel, outperform the FAST benchmark in terms of attention. Therefore, even in a FAST environment, it is important to be selective with the applications chosen for airing ads.
Additionally, Yahoo and Publicis Media found attention varied by pod position. On average, ads aired in the first in-pod position capture 6 per cent more attention than ads aired in the mid or last pod position. If an ad airs in the first in-pod position, it captures at least 2 seconds of attention 38 per cent of the time. In terms of attention time, ads aired in the first in-pod position capture 1 second more attention than ads aired in the mid or last pod position. On average, if an ad airs in the first in-pod position, viewers pay 11 seconds of attention. Meanwhile, shorter pod durations also matter, and get more attention and co-viewing, with consumers more receptive to them.
Demographics also play an important role in CTV tuning and attention, as certain age groups are more likely to engage with specific applications. Understanding where these age groups spend their time and how they engage is crucial for targeting a specific group. Yahoo’s and Publicis Media’s study found that younger viewers (under 40) are almost 60 per cent more likely to spend time with Hybrid applications than their older counterparts (40+).
The timing of ad breaks has a significant impact on the receptiveness of viewers. Unnatural breaks, such as those that cut off a show mid-sentence, are considered ‘the worst’, and many prefer the more natural breaks seen on cable. In fact, two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents said that ads that cut a show off at an unnatural place are the worst ad experiences, while 61 per cent said the same for ads that cut a show off at a cliffhanger, and 47 per cent for ad breaks that aren’t evenly spaced out throughout a show. Many viewers want the streaming ad experience to be more comparable to the ‘natural’ cable ad experience, with 55 per cent saying that cable delivers more predictable ads and 51 per cent indicating that they would such as streaming ad experiences to reflect the cable ad experience. Most respondents also said vMVPD and Hybrid services deliver the most ‘natural’ ad breaks.
Repetition can be a major annoyance and negatively impact brand sentiment. Over two-thirds (67 per cent) of viewers are annoyed by seeing the same ad more than once within the same ad pod. Ultimately, Yahoo and Publicis Media found that attention drops when viewers are exposed to the same ad within two minutes, and remains lowered for ads aired less than 5 minutes apart. The study suggests an attention ‘sweet spot’ of six-10 exposures, while maintaining an optimal gap of 12 – 24 hours between exposures to avoid brand burnout.
The study found that genres with higher engagement during viewing also had a higher share of ad attention. Crime dramas had the highest attention percentage at 46 per cent, followed by political commentary/coverage at 39 per cent, and game show competition at 38 per cent. On the other hand, awards programming had the lowest attention percentage at 14 per cent, followed by sci-fi at 16 per cent, and action/adventure at 20 per cent.
Contextually relevant ads have been found to capture greater attention than the average ad in the respective genre, making it an important way to engage the consumer further. For instance, 64 per cent of CTV viewers agree that ad experiences are better or ideal when ads feature people or elements from the program they are watching. Additionally, viewers pay 77 per cent more attention to food and beverage ads aired during cooking shows compared to the average ad.