- Thinkbox app for iPad
- Getting Started on TV
- TV Effectiveness
- TV at a Glance
- TV Technology
- TV Planning
- TV Toolbox
- TV Ad Galleries
- Screen Life: The View from the Sofa’
- Tellyporting: travelling to TV's near future
- Payback 3: ad success in tough times
- The link between creativity and effectiveness
- TV Response: the new rules
- The Truth about Youth: TV and young people
- TV Together: a very social medium
- Neuroscience: creativity, media placement and the brain
- Me-TV: the future of on-demand
- Upside to downturn: sharpening your ad payback
- TV sponsorship: a brand’s best friend
- TV & Online: Better together
- Generation Whatever
- Secret Life of Students
- DTRs - A Love Story
- Engagement Study
- Shareholder Research
- 3rd Party Research
- Audience Measurement and Data
- The Thinkboxes
- Case Studies
- Nickable Stuff
- Events and Training
- Hot Topics
- About Us
Web TV is gaining momentum. As people invest in a dazzling array of technology from mobile broadband and WIFI to iphones and laptops, the opportunity and propensity to access TV content via the internet continues to grow. However, where there is growth, there is uncertainty, so in the summer of 2008, Thinkbox commissioned Work Research to delve into the world of web TV.
The objective was to two-fold. Firstly, we wanted to establish a profile of viewing and to dig down into the nitty-gritty of why viewers opt to watch via the internet rather than the broadcast stream. Secondly, we wanted to examine the relationship between web and broadcast TV and ascertain what all of this means for ad formats.
The role of TV is changing and diversifying
Most of us have never known a time without telly. Gathering together for our favourite shows is commonplace and for many, kicking back and relaxing in front of the TV is a fundamental part of domestic life. We’re used to the set in the corner of the room and we invest an increasing amount of money to enhance our televisual experience, typically through flatscreens, HD and DTRs. But the world is changing and it’s changing fast…
When it comes to web TV, the change is primarily being driven by two factors.
- The mass adoption of broadband in UK homes.
The majority of homes in the UK now have access to broadband (c. 60% according to Ofcom) and for anyone who’s ever tried downloading an AV file via dial-up, it’s clearly apparent why this is such a major factor in driving the take-up of web TV. In addition, the combination of a laptop and broadband often paves the way for a WIFI connection. Once again, this improves the chances of TV being watched through a computer as it enables the user to connect within the more comfortable heartlands of the TV, such as living rooms and bedrooms.
- The choice and control afforded by digital TV technology.
Given that most of us are used to the level of choice offered by digital TV, and an increasing number of us also have DTRs (over 30% of UK households have some form of DTR technology, typically Sky+) the active leap required to access the content we want when we want it through the computer is lessened
Contrary to the popular belief that technological developments on the TV front prove detrimental to broadcast telly, we know from the benefit of hindsight that the reverse tends to be true. Take, for example, the DTR. Far from signalling the death of the 30” spot, a love affair has flourished. Households invest in the equipment because they love TV and DTRs simply help them to get more of the content they enjoy. Subsequently, they watch in the region of 17% more TV (according to Skyview), of which 85% is live, netting out at around 2% more ad views in total.
Likewise, Video on Demand and the development of the EPG did not spell the end of TV schedule as we know it, but are instead used as tools to build upon the live TV experience. And far from eating into the time spent with broadcast television as predicted, YouTube has been a revelation. Primarily used for ‘TV snacking’, YouTube acts as an informal PR machine for TV, enabling viewers to engage more fully with the content they love by watching highlights or snippets and forwarding them on – sometimes across the globe - as proven by the Susan Boyle phenomenon. In the case of ads, they even generate their own versions (see the Cadbury gorilla for some great examples). And we know what they say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery…
We employed a long and deep methodology in order thoroughly dig down into web-TV viewing. Firstly, we conducted an establishment survey on 1000 nationally representative adult broadband users to ascertain who was using, what they were using, why and how. This lead to five discreet qualitative groups primarily focussed on different types of users (and non users) and response to the types of ad formats available. Finally, another round of quantitative work was undertaken to further explore usage and drivers and to understand how the picture of usage had developed over the interim period.
Web-TV Users: Strikingly, of our broadband sample, 64% had accessed some kind of TV or video content in the past via their computers. Regardless of the weight of usage, respondents were able to identify the benefits of viewing online, particularly the relating to the aspects of control and convenience afforded by viewing through the web.
And for the time being at least, the profile of web TV users is highly desirable with a skew towards young, upmarket individuals who work full time. Of course, this will flatten over time as broadband penetration increases and the profile levels out, but for the time being, this is a very attractive place to be for advertisers. And for the time being at least, the profile of web TV users is highly desirable with a skew towards young, upmarket individuals who work full time. Of course, this will flatten over time as the early adopters increasingly make way for the rest of the population.
In addition, we witnessed frequency of use increase markedly during the four month period between the two quantitative bursts. Around two thirds of the sample claimed to use the web to access TV content once or more in the last week, with 44% claiming to have used it in the last few days – an 11 percentage point jump.
Unsurprisingly, viewers of online TV tended to be heavier internet users. Although work usage was roughly the same between users and non-users of web-TV, it was the difference in home surfing that was greatest, with 58% of TV-onliners using the net once or more a day at home versus just 26% of non-viewers. Traditionally, it is the heavier internet users that are seen as being lighter TV viewers, so internet TV is providing a way of ‘topping up’ the amount of television content being watched by these people – albeit to a level that is currently not universally measured in the same vein as broadcast television.
Technology and Web-TV
Changes in technology usage were also reflected in the quantitative results. Whilst both desktop and laptop increasingly provided vehicles through which to access TV online (the latter being increasingly driven by the proliferation of ‘free latops’ and mobile broadband deals that have besieged the market within the last 12 months), it was the granular detail that proved most interesting. Although only 12 of individuals had hooked their computers to their TV screens, this has risen by half in just 4 months. The lower quality of the computer screen was seen as a major barrier to many non-users so the ability to watch through the TV set should be a major driver in future. In addition, although still accounting for small numbers overall, similar increases were witnessed for watching at work and out of home on either a telephone or another mobile device. This is interesting as it takes TV out of the living room heartland and into new domains, more traditionally associated with press or outdoor. It also takes TV much closer to the point of purchase than ever before.
Site repertoire had increased significantly from an average of 1.8 sites per person to 2.8 between the first and second waves of quantitative research.
BBC iPlayer has had a significant role in driving site usage, acting as a route in to web television by providing a quality, comprehensive and easy navigable service that encourages trial of other broadcaster sites. This was reflected in the penetration levels (% of services ever used) of the broadcaster offerings over the 4 month period, with all of our shareholders’ services seeing significant uplifts.
The interviews revealed a host of reasons as to why the broadcaster sites were becoming more popular, but the high quality of the experience, combined with the familiarity with the broadcasters (and increasingly, the reassurance of the legality of their offerings) proved to be very alluring.
Why We Watch Online:
Web-TV and linear, broadcast TV were found to be very different propositions used for very different reasons. Online TV was shown to build on, rather than replace broadcast viewing. It could add up to 3 hours of viewing per week to broadcast television and generally brought lighter viewers back into ‘medium viewer’ territory – although as outlined earlier, this is not yet something that is captured by BARB.
On the whole, web-TV tended to be used in a similar vein to DTRs, acting as a ‘safety net’ to allow viewers the opportunity to keep up with their favourite programmes and stay within the broadcast stream when they may have otherwise dropped out. Interestingly, usage was consistent among DTR and non-DTR owners, suggesting that DTR owners can be forgetful, or that positive word of mouth after the broadcast event may be a driver of web-TV usage.
Catch-up versus Discovery
In fact, two main drivers of web-TV usage were identified. The first was ‘catch-up’ and was the main motivation for 78% of respondents. Users within this segment tended to leady busy lives (they were often female) with full-time jobs and families. The second driver was ‘discovery’ which motivated 22% of users and had more of a bias towards younger males.
Catch-uppers: Very much entered online TV through the broadcast television door, using the same language (episodes, channels, programmes) and relying heavily on the UK broadcaster sites to access content. However, watching via the web was seen as a secondary experience, without the benefits of a large screen and the shared experience, but the level of convenience afforded by the technology created a successful compromise.
Discoverers: On the flip side, people who entered online TV through the internet door thought of web-TV as simply ‘another part of the internet. For them, the experience is highly idiosyncratic and non-linear. They are used to delving round for content and unearthing new ways to access it and much of their behaviour online is viral, which was reflected in their experience of web-TV. For this group, there was no trade-off when watching online as they don’t expect perfection and proliferation of choice makes it a highly rewarding experience.
In short, catching up is key for both groups, but Discoverers tend to take the experience further by experimenting with new content, sharing programmes they love, watching extended content or snippets and delving into long-tail of content available online.
What about Advertising?
Undoubtedly, the web is creating new spaces and new opportunities for TV, with TV borrowing the choice and control of the internet but the internet benefiting from the content available on television and the convenience of the medium. It’s a perfect, symbiotic relationship that allows viewers to engage with content they love on a level they’ve never before experienced, with more viewing opportunities to different formats, additional content (including highlights, previews, exclusive content and snippets) and with new ways to share. It also gives broadcasters an intangible asset that enables them to build their brands and offer a host of interesting opportunities to advertisers.
As part of the study, seven different ad formats were qualitatively tested in order to assess their level of impact on, and suitability to, different audiences and contexts.
Three of the ad formats were more reminiscent of traditional linear TV (pre rolls, pre to post rolls and sponsorship) whereas the rest were much more interactive (live-buy, digital inserts, in-skin and choose your ad).
Essentially, the TV style ads were very familiar, and particularly to the catch-uppers, seemed to provide reassurance and continuity in what is often an unfamiliar media landscape.
In fact, catch-uppers expected ads to be in their online programmes –expecting the online experience to mimic the programmes on broadcast television. They were also acutely aware of the commercial contract; that the advertising they were exposed to enabled them to watch the content they enjoyed for free.
Conversely, the internet-style ad formats were initially met with resistance, primarily because they were less familiar to the audience and took some getting used to. In the case of the live-buy, for example, where users can hover the mouse over items in their show to attain more info and potentially buy the product, some respondents even believed it was ‘bastardising art’. However, it soon became apparent that the mood and context of viewing were absolutely fundamental to the suitability of the format. With the live-buy format, respondents soon realized the potential, particularly for home-makeover programmes, fashion or cookery. Likewise, in-skins (where there is a branded ‘frame’ around the content) was seen as being suitable for short shows and clips, but totally inappropriate for longer programmes or those with more serious tone. All appreciated the level of personal involvement that could be afforded to the viewer, but overall, the formats had very different strengths.
Overall, there was not a ‘one-size fits all’ ad solution, the key was the balance between content and control, mind-set and format-length, but when that balance is achieved, advertisers have the ability to engage with their audience on a whole new and exciting level.
In short, the media eco-system is adapting and web-TV is starting to find its role. Part of the function is as an extension (and back-up) to linear broadcast TV, but there is whole new space opened-up by the technology that allows TV into new spaces and onto new screens to fulfill new moods. The broadcasters play a pivotal role in this by providing a familiar and trusted extension into a bold, evolving landscape. Whilst there will be a natural ceiling to use (some people will never see the need to watch online no matter how widespread or convenient the technology) the potential is significant for advertisers to engage with their consumers in a way that perfectly balances the benefits of both TV and the internet.
Me-TV: the future of on-demand
This half day event asked how on-demand TV services are affecting the way we indulge in our favourite leisure pursuit - TV viewing. The morning included the full unveiling of the latest of our major original research projects. This report, commissioned from Work Research by Thinkbox, offered fresh insight into how web-based on demand TV is developing. As households invest in broadband, Wi-Fi and laptop technology, the opportunity to consume TV online is gaining momentum. A cast of respected industry experts were on hand to unlock the hidden value of on demand.
What type of advertising formats are being used and researched for Web TV? What do consumers think of them and how can these incremental ad opportunities benefit advertisers? Zoe Fuller, Planning Manager, Thinkbox explains in this bite-size film.