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Audiences Involved Online

Feb 7, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The new, jazzed-up Web sites and online content launched by the television networks this season have been worth the money, both to those networks and to their advertisers.
A significant number of people are using those sites, and those who do are relatively receptive to advertising, according to a new report from research company Knowledge Networks/SRI.
“If a network can get a sponsoring company to fund the streaming or the downloading of their video, then the advertiser’s getting a good deal and the network is getting a good deal by the fact that that’s going to build involvement with that program,” said David Tice, director of Knowledge Networks/SRI’s Home Technology Monitor. “We also asked about receptivity to advertising, and people who do watch streaming video or downloaded video also say they’re more likely than the average Internet user to buy from advertisers that advertise during their favorite programs.”
To be sure, tech-savvy online users of all ages still rank many forms of advertising as major nuisances. “Yes, they do practice avoidance,” Mr. Tice said. The most annoying forms of online ads include pop-up ads and uninvited video and audio that appear when a Web site loads—with no stop button.
But when there’s something the user wants, good things happen for the advertiser and the Web site. Take program video. Of all the network-generated online features that networks offer a sponsor, video “is the highest-rated thing in terms of increasing people’s consideration of a company that sponsors that.”
In its report, Knowledge Networks looks at a TV world in which many shows garner ratings of less than a 5. “Any potential hook to create involvement or interest in a program [or network] can be valuable,” it said.
It found that online features have been successful in building equity with program viewers. Even the feature least likely to increase involvement among a program’s viewers—items like screensavers—still provided increased program involvement among half of those who have used such features, the report found.
Mr. Tice said the most surprising finding was that something that could easily be overlooked on a network Web site—listings telling what day and time a show will be broadcast—”was by far the most used feature and also rate very highly in increasing people’s involvement in a program.” He noted that type of information is important for serialized shows such as “Lost” and “24” and shows that move around the schedule. “It’s getting harder and harder for people to track what’s on and when it’s on.”
On the other hand, some of the most advanced and trendy Web features haven’t really gained much traction with viewers. The survey found the least likely features to be used were podcasts and user-generated content. These items are relatively new, but they do have promise. “The potential for these features is certainly evident, since both rated quite high in building involvement with a program among the few who had actually used such features,” the report said.
The report found that 40 percent of Internet users reported visiting a network Web site since the beginning of September, while 29 percent said they had visited a program’s official Web site. When it comes to video use, 29 percent of Internet users said they have watched streaming video of network content while 11 percent had downloaded video of network content.
Local station Web sites were visited by 28 percent of Internet users.
Knowledge Networks/SRI’s conclusion: “Although we see a good start to sampling the networks’ revamped Web sites and Internet initiative, there is clearly much room to grow this crossover audience.”
Among the users who watch streaming video, 61 percent report watching video clips or segments from programs, 42 percent watch video features found only online and 34 percent watch full episodes.
Employers might want to note that 27 percent of streamers watch at work.
They like their streaming video: 44 percent said they’re watching more streaming video now, while just 9 percent said they’re watching less. And that is translating into broadcast because 23 percent of the people who watch streaming video say they’ve watched a program more often compared with 9 percent who watch online and cut back their broadcast viewing.
Streamers are also watching advertising: 30 percent of streaming network video watchers said they typically watch the pre-roll ad. If they’re not watching, 69 percent said they do listen to it, if only to know when they can go back to viewing. Virtually no streamers said they were willing to pay to avoid pre-roll or other advertising.
One in four streaming network video users have forwarded a link to streaming video of a commercial or advertising to friends or family, while 35 percent have received such a link. At the same time, 28 percent have gone to a sponsor’s Web site to watch a video ad or a special video feature.

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