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Controlling the remote

News story

Superimposing loyalty banners over the lower eighth of TV screens during ad breaks can reduce channel changes by almost 40 per cent – but decreases recall of commercials by more than a third, Curtin University researchers have found.

In a recent paper, School of Marketing Senior Lecturer Steve Dix concluded that interactive banners appearing during ad breaks, and that let viewers answer questions about the show they were watching, were likely to be a mixed blessing for advertisers.

Steve Dix found interactive TV banners were a mixed blessing for advertisers.

“There was certainly a tick upward in the percentage of people who stayed with the channel,” Dr Dix told Curtin News.

“But it didn’t do the advertisers many favours because viewer recall of the ads dropped to just less than 40 per cent.

“There was no memory trace for a lot of those ads.”

Recall of ads fell by 36 per cent, and Dr Dix said this was linked to split attention.

“People may recall engaging with the banner and answering the question but this detracted from them processing the advertising message,” he said.

“This makes sense because, psychologically, we can only attend to one thing at a time.”

A New Method to Reduce TV Ad Avoidance: The Effectiveness of Interactive Program Loyalty Banners, authored by Dr Dix, concluded that interactive loyalty banners clearly distracted viewers from optimally processing ads.

“The television networks are anxious to keep as many eyeballs as they can during advertising breaks to maximise their revenue,” Dr Dix said.

“Advertisers are charged according to the size of the program audience but, in some regions, advertising audience numbers determine the cost of the advertising.

“The real pressure on the networks is to try and keep audiences tuned during ad breaks comprising seven or eights ads.”

Aside from the impacts on viewer attention, the most serious obstacle to implementing interactive loyalty banners was the reaction of advertisers themselves – whom Dr Dix considered would resist having their expensive 30-second productions partly obscured.

The research was undertaken at Murdoch University’s Interactive Television Research Institute and Dr Dix said the institute’s Professor Duane Varan and Associate Professor Steve Bellman were integral to the study.