I was recently “DVRing” my way through a New York Giants football game and fast forwarding through the commercial breaks when my son said,  “Dad stop! Go back to that ad!”

It was the Bud Light ad with 3 voluptuous female aliens, asking for male volunteers to return with them to the alien world in return for—you guessed it—a Bud Light.

What was interesting about this experience (beyond my son’s interest in alien women) is that it illustrates an important point:  really good ads are much more effective in “DVR’d” programs than less effective ones.

Are DVR’s Killing Your Advertising ?

The advent of DVR’s has generated all manner of concern about their potential impact on advertising. A menace, a threat, or the potential end as we know it to effective TV advertising. But are DVR’s really making your brand’s TV advertising less effective?  Or, is it all just hype?

How DVR’s Impact Ad Effectiveness

Research from The Nielsen Company tells us several important things about how DVR’s impact ads:

  • DVR’s drive lower ad effectiveness.  Ad effectiveness overall is -30% lower in DVR versus non-DVR programs but is not changing significantly over time.
  • Higher quality ads perform better in DVR programs. Specifically, the most effective ads have 40% more impact when DVR’d than the worst ads.
  • Program genre matters. Ads in dramas are less impacted by DVR’s than ads in other genres, such as sitcoms, reality shows, etc.
  • Last in pod ads are least impacted by DVR’s.  Additionally, multi-spotting your ad during a program does not make a significant difference in ad performance.

How Should Marketers Respond ?

Taken together, there are several important lessons here for marketers:

  1. The overall impact of DVR’s on ad effectiveness is overblown. Yes, it’s true that 15% of viewing is now DVR’d. But combined with the fact that ads are 70% as effective in DVR households, the net -5% impact of DVR usage is relatively small. This is something that CMO’s should keep an eye on, but nothing that demands ringing the alarm bell.
  2. High quality creative can mitigate DVR’s negative impact. It’s a truism that great advertising creative is the most important factor in whether your campaign will build business or not. The DVR data showing high quality creative is less impacted by DVR’s than low quality creative is just one more reason to focus on getting a great creative idea from the beginning.
  3. Media planning needs to account for DVR usage. Network, genre, and pod placement all influence how DVR’s impact your advertising. Smart CMO’s should begin to demand that agencies take these factors into consideration when developing media plans.

DVR’s are pretty neat—it’s great to be able to DVR your favorite show and play it back whenever it’s most convenient for you, not the broadcaster. But, as the data above shows, they’re definitely not the end of TV advertising effectiveness as we know it.

DVR’s — Good for Advertising ?

And another thing:  there are at least two slivers of hope in all of this.

First, DVR’s are one of several factors that are actually driving TV viewership higher. So, there’s more opportunity than ever to connect your brand with viewers.

Second, marketers who understand the real impact of DVR’s on advertising can build these learnings into their creative and media plans for competitive advantage.

And wouldn’t that be great for your brand—the DVR as a competitive advantage, not as a menacing technology that threatens one of your core marketing programs?