Viewers multitasking on social media may be an asset not a distraction for TV advertisers.
TV consumption habits have changed dramatically in recent years and advertisers are aware that many consumers engage in “media-multitasking” while watching: in 2014 a Nielsen study found 80% of US viewers used another device at the same time. A common form of this multiscreen behaviour is referred to as “social TV”, where consumers engage in social media activity about a show while it is being aired. This trend often results in high engagement with audiences, but this paper attempts to find out its impact for advertisers, as theories differ on whether such engagement benefits them by association or distracts viewers from their messages.
The research compared the strength of social TV engagement with online traffic and sales for a range of ads from five large retailers that aired during social shows. The results show that social TV had a positive impact on advertisers and that more social “chatter” about a programme was associated with stronger sales for the brands that ran slots with it. But the size of the effect varies depending on the content of the advert. Emotional messages, especially funny ones, benefited most from social chatter whereas rational, informative ads saw less of a sales boost.
The authors suggest to retailers that advertising alongside social TV shows could be a good way to immediately increase online shopping activity at a given time, provided they run the right kind of ads. And for broadcasters, they add that having a solid social media engagement strategy to complement their programmes could increase their value for advertisers.
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