The advertising industry is pretty unique. We’re generally educated, upmarket, London-centric and time-poor and this shows through in our lifestyles, attitudes and behaviour – particularly when it comes to technology and media. Although our industry is based on our ability to understand the rest of the population, we’re surprisingly hopeless at it. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to assessing the media habits of the rest of the UK. It seems we find it difficult not to project our own technological confidence and lack of time onto the rest of the population.
The study comprises of two parts. Firstly, we look at the relationship between media, advertising and the general public. Secondly, we put the advertising industry in the spotlight and see how accurately they reflect the rest of the nation.
The General Public:
- TV is firmly entrenched in the lives of the UK population and TV advertising drives the greatest level of trust and emotional connection. TV is also the most memorable form of advertising by far.
- TV on a TV set is synonymous with quality, whereas other forms of viewing are seen as more functional and take a back-seat in terms of perceived time spent viewing.
- For all audiences, including young people, TV is the medium that is most synonymous with entertainment and relaxing.
The Ad Industry:
- The industry’s TV viewing habits and opinions differ significantly from the rest of the UK. Media folk are notoriously bad at estimating what the British public do and feel, particularly when it comes to the newer AV formats such as broadcaster VOD and subscription VOD.
- The industry has a much larger online footprint that the rest of the UK, particularly when it comes to social media.
We commissioned Ipsos to speak face-to-face to 800 nationally representative UK residents aged 15+, in July of 2016. We asked them about their attitudes to, and use of, media, technology and advertising. During this time, we also spoke to 300 members of the advertising industry online, asking them the same questions, but also asking them to state how they think the British public would have answered.
TV Nation Top-lines
- TV advertising sticks in our brains and drives brand-fame. It is 6 x more memorable than the next best competitor and the medium that is most likely to drive emotion, make people laugh, drive conversation and be liked. The pattern is mirrored for 15-24 year olds.
- Trust in TV advertising is on the rise and TV’s ability to drive emotion are also showing growth since the last wave of the research.
- In spite of the proliferation of ways to consume TV content, the TV set remains to the most common way to watch, with 92% of respondents saying they have viewed TV in this way. It’s the same for 15-24s, although young people do have a wider device repertoire. In spite of the abundance of online TV content, over half of the total sample (53%) claimed to only ever watch TV on a TV set – and that figures hasn’t changed since 2014.
- Tablets have now overtaken laptops and were the second most used TV-watching device (within the last 7 days) behind the TV set. Large TV screens are seen as offering the best viewing experience by 84% of respondents whereas portable devices are used as a way of watching when the TV set is not available.
- The majority of the UK (56%) state that TV is one of their preferred ways of relaxing and virtually the same number cite TV as being one of their favourite forms of entertainment.
- The importance placed on live TV is increasing over time, with the UK public appreciating that watching TV on the same day as it is broadcast feels like more of an event. There is a real sense of anticipation around their most-watched programmes. It may be that the increase in social media use over the time we’ve been conducting the study has created a ‘spoiler effect’, with people keen to watch so they can chat in real-time and avoid any giveaways that will ruin the plot before they’ve had chance to watch.
Ad Nation Top-lines:
- Our survey revealed that ad industry professionals are much more likely to cram in their TV viewing through a range of devices. This may well be a result of being time-poor and generally having a longer commute. The research also showed how abysmal the industry is at estimating viewing time – both their own and that of the general population. Ad people estimate that they spend 24% of their viewing time watching via another device but they feel that ‘normal’ people spend a whopping 37% of their viewing time doing the same. In fact, we know from a mix of BARB and broadcaster data that the reality is just 2%, yes 2%, of viewing time!
- The misperceptions are particularly profound when it comes to estimating the time spent doing different screen activities, such as VOD. Ad folk estimate that they spend 42 minutes a day watching BVOD, but position the general population at a staggering 1 hour and 21 minutes of BVOD content per day. Broadcaster data shows that the industry is overcooking the figure by over ten times and the reality is just 8 minutes per day. This trend is echoed in the subscription VOD estimates, where the ad industry feel the UK public watch 1 hour and 24 minutes per day of services such as Netflix, when Touchpoints puts it as just 11 minutes. Worryingly, the YouTube estimates follow exactly the same pattern.
- It doesn’t stop there. The industry is also wildly off the mark when it comes to multi-screening, believing that the British public spend twice as much time using more than one device than they actually do. (Touchpoints puts multi-screening time as 18% of total device usage time whereas the ad industry estimates it to be a massive 50%.)
- Unsurprisingly, ad people are at the forefront of technology and continue to be hopeless social media and subscription VOD addicts. We’re 4 x more likely to have used Twitter within the last three months than the general population. There is a huge sevenfold difference between ad people and the general population for LinkedIn usage and ad-folk are more than twice as likely to have used Netflix or Amazon Instant Video within the last few months.
- Given that above, it comes as no surprise that the ad industry are 3 times more likely than the British public to watch programmes on Netflix such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Mr. Robot.
- However, thankfully, there is one area where the general public and the ad industry and gloriously in-sync. TV advertising. The research shows that both the industry and the UK population feel TV adverting is the medium we trust the most, the one that is more likely than any other to make us laugh or feel emotional and the one that is most likely to drive brand fame. Thank goodness for that.
This study highlights how we must exercise caution when we think of the rest of the UK. We’re in the privileged position of being at the forefront of technological change within this industry. We can afford to invest in devices, we cram in as much media as possible into the limited time we have and we’re more likely than most to stay connected online. Unfortunately for us, it’s all too easy to think everyone else is the same.