Widespread TV Spot-Skipping: Who Are the Worst Offenders?
January 28, 2013
In our last column, we showed alarming new data, from our just-completed national study, about the prevalence of TV commercial-skipping among the vast majority of radio listeners. That piece is a must-read for any executive considering using TV in 2013.
This week, we will zero in on a few audience groups who are even more likely than the average radio listener to skip through spots. But first, to put those groups in the proper context, let us review our essential headline about the TV spot habits of radio consumers in general.
Recap: Three in Four Radio Listeners Usually Skip Through TV Spots
We asked a national sample of radio listeners, 18-54 to tell us, using a 1 (none of the time) to 7 (all of the time) scale, how often they skip through TV spots.
When they watch TV, only 12% of these radio listeners faithfully sit through all commercials (1). Only 28% sit through spots more than half the time (1-3). Meanwhile, 24% always skip spots (7). 57% skip spots more than half the time (5-7). And 72%, nearly three in four, say that they skip spots at least half the time.
So that’s the big picture, the total sample. What about specific audience sub-groups? Are there exceptions to this pattern? Groups that skew the other way and typically sit through spots? No. Basically, the variance between groups is the variance from really bad to worse. Large majorities within every single listener breakout category we looked at usually skip through TV spots. Last week [LINK] we showed that across-the-board consistency as we broke the audience out by their three most critical dimensions: by demos, by TSL, and by PPM Prospects vs. Non-Prospects. One message rings true throughout: Going on TV, period, to chase any kind of target listener, yields a horrible Real-Audience ROI. It can virtually waste a limited-budget buy that turned out to make only one-fourth the impressions we were sold.
Spot-Skippers Dominate in All Regions. Northeasters Are The Worst.
Let’s check geography. Are there good vs. bad regions for sitting through spots? No. As this chart shows, there are only very bad vs. worse regions.
The most patient TV viewers are in the Midwest, but that doesn’t mean they usually watch commercials. Not even them. It simply means that in the Midwest, “only” 66% are habitual (at least half the time) spot-skippers. That is, maybe one in three Midwestern “viewers” actually sees a TV spot. Meanwhile, in the Northeast, 79% are habitual spot-skippers. That is, maybe only one in five Northeastern viewers actually sees a TV spot.
News/Info Users and Talk Radio Regulars Are Extreme TV-Spot-Skippers.
If you are using TV to advertise a news/information identity, or to advertise Spoken Word in general, you may want to consider what your target audience does when they are watching TV.
Folks who spend at least a half hour a day with radio news and information, and/or with talk radio, are exceptionally poor targets for TV. They skip spots like they were living in the Northeast. 79% are skipping at least half the time. Only one in five of these radio-info-junkies and spoken-word-regulars sit through spots more than half the time. Extremely dangerous.
High Earners Are Worst, But Even Low-Income Folks Are Mostly Skipping.
DVR’s continue to proliferate, as do other digital tools for watching TV. Knowing that this technology has virtually saturated the affluent market but is still penetrating elsewhere, we broke the sample out by their household income.
Among those with higher household incomes, over $70,000, 74% are regular spot-skippers. In the middle-income levels, the behavior is almost as prevalent, at 71%. And at less than $30K, a still-whopping 62% are skipping. A reasonable extrapolation from this is that as the technology becomes increasingly affordable and the low end becomes more saturated, the percentage of them who are skipping will increase as well, very likely up to that 74% level.
What this means to you
As we noted last week, the overall numbers about TV-spot-skipping are so overwhelming that we strongly suggest you re-calibrate your actual impressions, your real cost-per-point, and accordingly, your cost/benefit analysis. When scrutinized under the unforgiving light of real-viewership, and weighed against the bang-for-buck effectiveness of direct marketing, most TV campaigns for radio stations, period, will not line up as sound investments.
This week’s data tell us that even beyond its overall high cost for weak return, a TV buy delivers even less ROI in the Northeast, or when targeting Spoken Word listeners, or those at middle-income or higher. If a TV campaign in general is highly inadvisable, a TV campaign in those circumstances is even more wasteful and even less defensible.