Half of Americans Would Watch Skipped Ads for Money

December 15, 2009

Americans can’t live without the internet, like innovative and unique ads best, and are open to new technologies that monitor their media usage if they can still maintain their privacy, according to a multi-country survey by Synovate.

The global study was undertaken to discover which media are the most effective in targeting Americans (and those of other nationalities) and their daily media habits. It asked respondents which media they could not live without and tested their openness to watching more ads on various media if paid to do so. Key findings are highlighted below.

Mobile Phones Increasingly Prevalent

The cellphone has become an increasingly prevalent channel for Americans to receive news and information, and the rise in smart phones has caused a corresponding increase in mobile marketing and advertising efforts, Synovate said.

More than one-third (35%) of people in the US say they cannot live without their cellphone. However, as their use of mobile devices has grown, their attitude toward increased mobile marketing is still somewhat hesitant. Nearly one in four (39%) of Americans feel the number of ads they is now are sufficient, while (54%) say they would not accept more ads via their mobile devices even if paid to do so.

Can’t Live Without Internet

More than half (58%) of Americans say they can’t live without the internet, the highest response across all 11 countries surveyed.

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Interestingly, even though 56% of people in the US say there are too many ads on the internet and 41% say they avoid websites with intrusive ads more often than they did a year ago. More than half (52%) are open to seeing more ads on the internet if paid to do so.

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Too Many TV Ads

Across all countries surveyed, the majority of people think there are too many ads on TV, with 68% globally and 71% of Americans agreeing that there are. This may be why 48% of people globally and 44% in the US say they skip ads more often than they did a year ago, by either turning down the TV, changing the channel or fast forwarding through commercials.

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However, more than half of Americans (52%) also say they’d be willing to watch the ads if paid to watch them, such as through a discount on their cable bill. The US was the second-highest market globally that said this, after Spain at 57%.

Only 5% of Americans say they could easily live without TV while 34% say they couldn”t live without it.

Not-So-Social Advertising

The survey found that Americans show less use of social media to promote a brand or ad compared to the rest of the globe.

Some 13% of people globally but only 8% of Americans say they are discussing ads with their friends more than they did a year ago, while 11% globally and 8% of Americans are searching more for ads online, such as on YouTube.

More than two-thirds (68%) of people globally and 63% of Americans say they have never promoted a brand on their social networking page, though 9% of Americans admit they are doing this more often compared to a year ago.

As an example of this behavior on a specific social network, the number of people following brands on Twitter remains low, with only 5% of people globally and 4% of Americans saying they’ve done this, Synovate said.

Favorite Ads are Unique, Innovative

Ads that are innovative and/or unique are the most well-received, with more than one in five (21%) of people globally and in the US liking them, the study found.

Other popular ad characteristics are spontaneous/playful (the second most admired attribute), liked by 16% of people around the globe and 17% in the US, and optimistic / happy straightforward (third-most admired), with 14% worldwide and 12% in the US saying they like such ads.

“A lot of the most popular ads tap into this need of fun and light-heartedness,” said Steve Garton, executive director of Synovate’s media research group.”People are down and bored with the negative news about the economy and want something upbeat to lift their spirits.”

Potential for Behavioral Marketing?

Respondents also were asked how they’d feel if websites and TV channels developed technology that monitored their use and viewing habits in order to only show ads about brands and products that might interest them.

The survey found that consumers around the world are open to this idea, as long as the technologies do not collect personal data that could identify them individually. More than one-fourth (26%) globally and 32% of Americans say they would like this technology if none of the data could identify them. An additional 35% of Americans aren’t convinced they couldn’t be individually identified so they aren’t interested in this technology at all.

About the survey: The survey was conducted in September 2009 and encompassed more than 8,600 respondents across 11 countries.

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