Various panelists at the Advertising Research Foundation annual convention Re: Think in New York City pitched the viability of cross-platform advertising—with the research metrics to prove it.
A FOX Sports partnership with Innerscope, for instance, examined the effectiveness of the double box (i.e. split screen) commercial format. According to Michael Mulvihill, SVP, Research & Programming, Fox Television, the declines in NASCAR viewing in recent years “have frankly been a little worrisome,” in comparison to the sport’s peak in popularity around 2005. So the goal was to get creative.
Fox experimented with the double box commercial format using Innerscope’s biometric research combined with eye tracking to determine the emotional effectiveness of the ads. A biomeasuring monitor belt, worn by the subjects, tracked skin conductance, heart rate, breathing and motion. The study compared the double box format, which continued to air the race on half the screen, with ads that aired alone.
The results showed that viewers were more emotionally engaged with the ads in the double box format—their eyes darted from the ad to the race, with the ad getting most of the viewing time when both images were shown. Fans have expressed approval for the double box by a margin of 16:1, said Mulvihill. He also noted, perhaps optimistically, that though not the primary cause, the new ad format was a contributing factor to the fact that the 2012 Daytona 500 was FOX’s most-watched NASCAR race ever.
On whether the format will make its way into other sporting events, and other sports, Mulvihill said, “I can’t say we will or won’t use the double box in the World Cup or other soccer events,” but the research raises possibilities of future events—even for scripted shows. “But it would have to be a very particular kind of script. I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Meanwhile, the Google/Nielsen September 2011 “Volvo Multi-Screen Media Lab Study” looked at whether ad effectiveness increased when advertisers used multiple platforms and found that multiple exposure across many screens indicated a marked increase of brand recall. When ads ran on TV, a PC, tablet and smartphone, recall was 74%, in comparison to TV-only campaigns, which showed 50% recall.
The idea that the lift exists was suspected, said Vineet Pathak, exec dir, strategic marketing sciences, Nieslen Entertainment. What’s new is the quantification of that lift—in this case 24%. He added the study also supports the idea that additional screens constitute supplemental behaviors—good news for advertisers.
A third case study looked at the cross-platform availability of content during the 2011 March Madness tournament. The goal was to measure the size and behavior of the audience, wherever they watched the event. Notably, 2011 was the first year in which the games were aired on 4 different networks, and that was a major concern for both Turner and CBS. But the research showed that C3 indices were better or comparably with other major sporting events.
Another worry dispelled by the study was that viewers would not engage in various platforms. Out of the event’s 176 million viewers, 21.8 million were digital users, and 47% of those watched digital only. Tom Delaney, svp, marketing services, CBS Television, noted he was most pleased with the enormous out-of-home TV audience, which amounted to 73.2 million viewers. “It was larger than anyone expected.” He added that he wished he’d known that a lot earlier—and certainly would have charged more.