Who is really watching the commercials?

Date of publication: May 1, 1994

Author: Phil Gullen

Abstract:

TV research does not measure peoples' actual contact with advertisements but rather the "opportunity to see" commercials. This paper addresses this issue and looks at various factors which may affect the chances of an opportunity actually being taken. Two new research studies are described along with some of their key findings. These are The Carat Foretel Advertising Recall Study - an examination of the recall of over 200 commercials within 2 to 3 hours of transmission and The Carat Foretel Attention Study - a programme of proprietary research which establishes quality of viewing to thousands of UK TV programmes. The conclusion of this paper is that many media buyers' prejudices about advertising effectiveness are either less important than had previously been thought or are actually wrong. The main factor influencing the recall of TV commercials, aside from the creative impact of the commercials themselves, is found to be the attention paid to the surrounding programmes. Whilst this conclusion may seem blindingly obvious to many readers of this paper, it is an issue widely debated by media practitioners. As the debate goes on, the majority of TV campaigns are planned and bought as if all ratings are equal. The Carat Foretel programme of research demonstrates that this is not so.

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