Smartphones a bigger threat to TV advertising than DVRs

“The advertising industry has long been concerned about new technology that aids ad avoidance. While much attention has been focused on the impact of DVRs, new research from the IPG Media Lab and YuMe shows the real threat to attention is the smartphone and other increasingly ubiquitous distraction media,” Brian Monahan reports for AdAge.

“The study quantified some long-suspected but never quantified aspects of media behavior. Distraction media was ubiquitous, with 94% of TV and 73% of online video viewers using some type of companion/distraction media. While companion media included everything from laptops, video games and crossword puzzles to physical mail and musical instruments, the smartphone proved to be the true ‘disruptor’ in regards to video attention levels. Of all of the companion media used, the smartphone accounted for 60% of TV and 46% of online video distractions,” Monahan reports.

Some common video patterns were observed:
• Participants watched content, but turned to companion media during advertising.
• Participants multitasked with companion media at all times.
• Participants displayed relatively consistent viewing, but exhibited low emotional or intellectual engagement.

Monahan reports, “Magna Global estimates that 35% of U.S. households have DVRs and 10% of their total TV consumption is time shifted, within which 65% of ads are fast forwarded, meaning 35% x 10% x 65% = 2% of total TV ad impressions are avoided through fast forwarding. Our study found that 63% of TV impressions were avoided simply by not paying attention to the screen.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wait until enough iPads get out there. We hardly ever use our iPhone 4 when our iPad 2s are available which, when we’re in front of the TV, is all the time. We regard iPhone 4 and its tiny screen, no mater how perfect that screen may be, to be only for truly mobile situations, when we don’t have our iPads. Our iPhones became our iOS device of last resort the day the original iPad was released. If advertisers want to reach people in front of their TVs, they should focus on immersive iAds for iOS devices.

[Attribytion: TUAW. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Lynn W.” for the heads up.]


  1. Re MDN’s take.
    I use my iPhone more than my iPad as it’s quicker to whip out of my pocket like a pocket rocket. The iPad on the other hand I have to hunt high and low for like buried Pirates of the Caribbean treasure known as underwear.

  2. MDN:

    Wrong. Studies are showing smartphones over iPad. It’s quicker and… wait for it… people not only look things up on the web with it, but use them to text message during commercials.

    Look to smartphones for advertising. And interactive iAds? It just shows you’re a bit wishful in your thinking.

    Again: Web text messages = smartphones during commercial breaks.

    Wake up.

    1. Pfft, I just torrent my shows because it is simpler to do that any other method (including watch live, DVR, and iTunes), I’m not stuck with the USA-only network offerings, and I’m still using my MacBook Pro, iPad, or iPhone while the show is going on.

      There should be a service, a TipJar or an HonorSystem that let’s me tip the producers of shows I do like to help keep them on the air. I feel guilty about not paying, but I don’t feel guilty about using a hyper convenient method.

    2. You missed the point of the study and MDN’s take. It’s not whether it’s quicker to use your iPhone or iPad, it’s what you would use when watching TV. If you’re sitting down to watch a show and have the option of iPhone or iPad to use during commercials, you’re most likely going to use the iPad.

      Now if you’re out and about, that’s a different story.

  3. MDN got it right.

    Do you guys really own iPads?

    My iPad sits on the coffee table ready to grab during every TV commercial. Then I usually forget about the crappy TV show and miss most of it.

  4. Either ad companies will have to evolve or the bubble will burst on ad revenue completely. You can’t make a horse drink water, a child eat their spinach, and it won’t work to make people watch ads. society plain old just doesn’t have time for this shit anymore.

  5. MDN got it right.
    do you guys really own ipads?
    i don’t either, but my wife’s ipad is always in her lap, she reads books, plays sudoku, etc. esp. when commercials come on. she used to change channels, now she just redirects to her ipad. and forgets about the t.v. sometimes too.

  6. I really don’t watch TV anymore. Even with sports, I tend to watch oddball ones, so internet streaming packages (or free) is a better option than broadcast TV. If it weren’t for my wife, I wouldn’t even bother having a cable subscription.

  7. The problem with advertising is that there is WAY TOO MUCH of it.
    Someone needs to tell the nets that less is more. The more intrusive the ads the less likely I am to watch. I buy iTunes season passes on shows I follow to avoid ads completely.
    The pop up lower 3rd type supers that get inserted over content are particularly hated.

  8. To the original researchers: Well, duh!
    I occasionally catch sight of an ad that I have HEARD dozens of times, but never before SEEN. It can be an interesting experience…

  9. I DVR almost everything that I want to see using the scheduling tools. I event start live sports at least 30 minutes to one hour late so that I can fast forward through all of the beer commercials and inane commentary. If you wait even longer and skip halftime, you can watch a three hour football game in less than 40 minutes without missing a play.

    I despise most commercials, and the commercial breaks have grown from a couple of minutes when I was a kid to at least double that. There are a few commercials that are funny enough to watch a few times, but even they get old after the first half dozen viewings.

  10. I rarely use my iPhone when I can be on my iPad. I generally take both with me everywhere and much prefer the iPad experience. Especially while watching TV. Advertisers need to create experiences like Disney did with the Tron and Bambi blu-ray discs. The iPad functions as a second screen showing different content related to what’s happening in the movies. That’s the future!

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