According to TiVo: Vignettes Helping Maintain TV Viewer Engagement in a DVR World
In a DVR world, who watches commercials? That was the lead-in on one of the slides presented by Greg DePalma, Vice President of Audience Insights at TiVo. Indeed, fast forwarding with your DVR remote is now as commonplace as skipping a b-side quality song on your favorite CD.
I met up with Greg at the Big Data Innovation conference here in San Francisco, hosted by the IE Group. TiVo, at the helm of the DVR revolution, knows quite a bit about viewer engagement, as well. The company uses a national sample of 2 million homes where they track viewing patterns second-by-second, evaluating program and commercial ratings. Additionally, they have panel of 45,000 opt-in users they work with to drill deeper into analysis.
The advent and proliferation of the DVR has created a problem for advertisers. The graph below demonstrates the massive drop in viewership between programming and commercials in a recent TiVo study.
"Neilson ratings the way they are, are not really measuring the bottom dip," Greg explains. "If there's some part of a commercial in the unit of a minute, they count it." What this means, is brands are not really getting what they're paying for, and they need to figure out creative ways to combat it.
So how are advertisers dealing with this weakened viewer engagement? Greg cites vignettes as one solution. Vignettes are blurring the difference between a TV show and a TV commercial by merging the two. Kind-of like the way Saturday Night Live blurs where the show stops and the ad starts in its commercial spoofs after the opening of it's show.
In Greg's example, Sprint created a "Desperate Housewives" vignette incorporate the same setting and narration elements of the show (click image below for YouTube clip).