Audience Retention 18% Higher for HD than SD TV Spots

February 14, 2012

dg-hd-tv-spot-tuneaway-feb-2012.jpgTV ads aired in high definition (HD) outperform their standard definition (SD) counterparts in terms of audience retention by 18.4%, according to [pdf] a study released in February 2012 by DG and Kantar Media. Examining 28,270 nationally placed commercial occurrences of watermarked commercials distributed by DG in March 2011, the study found that tuneaway for HD spots was 3.1%, compared to 3.8% for SD spots. In fact, tuneaway was higher for SD spots regardless of length: it was 33% higher for 15-second spots, and 16% higher for 30-second spots. Additionally, SD spots averaged 28% higher tuneaway in the first position within a pod.

The report defines tuneaway as a percentage of seconds not tuned to a commercials compared to the number of seconds that could have been tuned to a commercial.

Verticals Missing Billions in Potential

Regardless of the industry, SD spots averaged a higher tuneaway than HD spots. This was most evident, though, for beverage and quick-service restaurants (33% higher), along with the entertainment (17%) and retail (16%) verticals. The difference was less pronounced for automotive ads (9% higher for SD).

Summing up the potential value of HD ads over SD ads in terms of audience retention among the verticals measured, the report estimated that advertisers stood to gain $8.2 billion from airing ads in HD rather than SD.

Indeed, HD ads are becoming more widespread, but are still relatively scarce: according to a February 2012 report [pdf] from the Extreme Reach Research Group, just 23% of all TV ads were delivered in HD in Q4 2011, although that is a 35% increase from Q1.

HD Channels Also Demonstrate Higher Retention

Data from “A Solution to Increasing TV Advertising Impact in a High Definition World” indicates that ads aired on HD channels also outperformed those aired on SD channels, regardless of the format of the ad itself. In fact, tuneaway was 29% less for spots on HD channels (2.7%) than for those on SD channels (3.8%). The result held no matter the length of the commercials: tuneaway was higher on SD channels for 15-second spots (29% higher), 30-second spots (27% higher), and 60-second spots (32% higher). And, ads in HD broadcasts averaged 38% lower tuneaway in the first position within a pod.

Political Advertisers Lead the Charge

Political advertisers will no doubt be encouraged by these results, particularly as they have been shifting from SD to HD TV commercials over the past year. According to the Extreme Research report, during the second half of 2011, 32% of political ads were distributed in HD, a massive increase from just 3% in the second half of 2010. In fact, this means that political advertisers now deliver a higher percentage of TV commercials in HD than any other type of local market advertiser.

Other Findings:

  • Results from the DG study indicate that ads in HD broadcasts yielded lower tuneaway in all the verticals studied. Motion pictures (-33%) showed the greatest difference, followed by automotive (-30%), restaurants (30%), telecom (-29%), and CPG (-27%).
  • SD broadcasts had higher tuneaway than ads on HD broadcasts during each of the 3 key dayparts: 7 AM-10 AM (32% higher); 10 AM-4 PM (24% higher); and 4 PM-11 PM (29% higher). Looking at HD spots compared to SD spots, the report also found that regardless of the daypart, tuneaway was higher for SD spots, with a downward trend in disparity observed as the day went on: 3 AM-7 AM (39% higher); 7 AM-10 AM (21% higher); 10 AM-4 PM (20% higher); 4 PM-8 PM (15% higher); 8 PM-11 PM (12% higher); and 11 PM-Midnight (13% higher).
  • Data from the Extreme Research report indicates that 61% of all TV outlets had adopted HD by Q4 2011, up from 51% in Q1. Between Q3 and Q4 2011, there was a 7% increase in local broadcast HD adoption (from 42% to 45%), and a 16% increase in local cable HD adoption (from 62% to 72%).

About the Data: The DG and Kantar data comparing HD and SD channels was based on examination of 2.4 million nationally placed commercial occurrences in March 2011. To ensure the most accurate picture of tuneaway possible, Kantar captured Return Path Data (RPD) clickstreams from DirecTV digital TV set-top boxes using a panel consisting of 100,000+ DirecTV homes. This method gathered extremely rich second-by-second data from large samples, ideal for gauging audience tuneaway.

For its study, the Extreme Reach Research Group analyzed and referenced data from more than 1,550 active television advertisers across 28 verticals including political advertisers, 500 active video production studios and content providers, nearly every commercial television and cable broadcast outlet in the United States and Canada, including all major broadcast networks.

The Extreme Reach analysis drew from a sample of 155,500 SD and HD commercial deliveries completed over the 3-month period between October 1 and December 31, 2011. Areas of analysis include advertiser HD distribution and broadcaster HD adoption. Also included in the study was direct feedback from an Extreme Reach Research Group phone and email survey of 18 political marketing firms, conducted in December 2011, and data from previous Extreme Reach studies.

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