Posted September 13, 2013 5:43 pm by with 1 comment

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arrow_novsweepsposter_600Nielsen did a spectacular thing: they cataloged 70,000 TV ads on 6,777 TV shows over a three year period then figured out the correlation between the viewers interest in the show and their recall of the ad.

They divided this by that, accounted for X and filled in the Y and came to this conclusion:

For every 2 percentage point improvement in a viewer’s program engagement—how well people remember what happened in a TV show they watched the prior evening—advertisers can (on average) expect a 1 percentage point improvement in sustained ad memorability.

In other words – the more a person likes a show, the more they’ll remember the commercials that ran during the show.

Why is this good news? Because strong recall usually means strong sales of the product. Which makes sense, right? If I remember it, I’ll look for it in the store.

This is also good news for small genre shows like Arrow. It doesn’t have a huge audience (relatively speaking) but it has a very dedicated audience – who are more likely to watch, recall and buy the things they see in the ads. That’s important. That’s more important than paying to put your ad on a high rated show where people don’t pay much attention. (I shall not name names.)

Nielsen did name a few of the most engaging shows of last season: NBC’s Parenthood, FOX’s The Following, CBS’ Elementary, ABC’s Revenge and The CW’s Arrow.

Hmmm. . . with exception of Parenthood, all of those shows involve murder and mayhem. What are we to make of that?

Here’s a graphic that shows how recall rises with engagement:

nielsen program impact

Looks like a disease spreading across the nation.

What I wonder if the same thing holds true for online. When people stream an episode of Arrow on The CW website, do they recall the ads to the same degree? If not the same degree, is it better than the recall on less engaging, online shows? Someone needs to do a study on this.

In the end, Nielsen would like to remind us all that quality content still matters. A bad ad on a good show won’t have the impact of a good ad on a good show. So don’t let your time-slot do all the work – go forth and get creative if you want to be remembered in the morning.

  • Ermyntrude

    The data does not back this up the conclusion above. It shows that the more a person remembers of a TV show, the more they remember of the associated ads (engagement is only measured in terms of recall, not enjoyment). It makes complete sense for a person who remembers more of a TV show to remember more of the ads, as they are likely to have a good memory. Or were simply more alert at that time.