Commercials should break with tradition, says research

Advertising campaigns of varying spot lengths are more effective than the traditional 30-second ones, according to a major study by media auditors the Billett Consultancy.

Commercial Break Ecology 1998 also analyses how viewers’ attitudes towards a TV programme influences recall of ads screened in the middle of it.

A total of 7,775 people were called immediately after watching one of 20 peaktime programmes on ITV and Channel 4 last April to analyse their reactions to the ads in the centre breaks.

Forty-three per cent of the sample did not see the break because they had left the room or flicked channels, while 22 per cent of those who stayed in the room did not watch the ads – which challenges the assumption that people watch ads if the television is switched on.

The research showed that a ten-second ad achieved a recall figure of 34 per cent of viewers – not much lower than a 30-second ad with 42 per cent. Ads of more than 50 seconds achieved a 58 per cent recall.

John Billett, chief executive of Billetts, says: “Does this signify the end of the 30-second spot in favour of the multiple spot length campaign?”

More people watched the commercial break if they empathised strongly with the programme surrounding it, or if they had been paying close attention to the programme, according to the research.

The best indicators of whether people will recall an ad is programme genre. For example, dramas scored higher on recall than soap operas.

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