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Do Fast-Forwarded Commercials Influence You?

April 2017

robEarly results from an upcoming project by Marketing assistant professors Rob Rouwenhorst, PhD, and Liang Zhao, PhD, looks at the influence of DVRs and whether fast-forwarded, or "zipped" commercials still influence us.  

"I got my first TiVo in 2001 and have always wondered if the commercials that I was skipping still influenced me," says Dr. Rouwenhorst. "In a word, yes they do. Dr. Zhao and I have found that although viewers cannot recall the zipped commercials that they have been exposed to, some are still having an influence on later decisions. It does not mean that if we show a zipped commercial for Subway, everyone suddenly has a desire for Subway. However, we are detecting significant shifts for some brands based on certain commercials. Our job now is teasing out why some ads have an influence on us at the subconscious level and others don't."

liangThe researchers also are looking at how to make zipped commercials more memorable and their influence on attitudes.  

"We've discovered that repeating an ad helps, but some things like having a blank screen for one second after an ad can have a significant influence on viewers memories," explains Dr. Zhao. "We have seen that as the zipping speed increases, from say 3-times to 60-times real-time (the slowest and fasted speed on a TiVo) viewers' explicit memory for ads decreases and their attitudes toward them become more neutral." 

"Viewers like to be in control and although they are zipping the commercials, they are actively watching them. Forcing viewers to watch an ad can have much more negative effects on viewers' attitudes than letting them zip through an ad," explains Dr. Rouwenhorst. 

This could by one reason why YouTube is going to stop forcing viewers to sit through ads starting in 2018. As the number of households with digital video recorders exceeds 50 percent, the pair's research is timely and has significant managerial applications. Viewers are more actively engaged and happy if given control and allowed to fast-forward commercials rather than being forced to sit through them.

"The Google thing is to launch products early on Google Labs and then iterate, learning what the market wants - and making it great. The beauty of experimenting in this way is that you never get too far from what the market wants. The market pulls you back."
-Marissa Mayer, from a 2008 interview with FastCompany


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