For years, marketers have been predicting that the advent of DVR technology meant consumers would no longer watch ads. And if they no longer watched ads, they wouldn’t be out buying products. TV media companies and marketers can breathe a sigh of relief. A new study by Duke University researchers shows that there has been little change in  behavior when it comes to DVR-owning households watching ads or buying products that are marketed via TV.

The study was carried out with assistance from both TIVO and CPG manufacturers – parties which had a vested interest in the outcome. Researchers studied consumer  purchase behavior and TV viewing behavior of over 10,000 households for 1 year prior to being given a  TIVO and subscription and for 1 year after they were given the new TV viewing technology.  Key findings from the study are as follows:

  • Over 95% of  TIVO-equipped households still watch live TV. This kind of viewing does not allow them to skip ads.
  • When consumers do record shows, they watch the screen to know when to stop fast-forwarding. During that time, they are being exposed to advertising.
  • Marketers cannot assume that consumers without DVRs are sitting in front of their TVs when ads come on. They may leave the room for a variety of reasons.
  • DVR technology is linked to higher rates of TV viewing and therefore a higher rate of exposure to TV ads.

The most significant insight from this study may be that new technology is finding its way into set top boxes. (One can argue that DVRs are a form of set-top boxes.) As such, customized advertising can now be delivered to the viewing audience and according to lead Duke Researcher, Carl Mela, “[t]elevision used to be the darling of media. It fell out of favor with the new media. And now television may become an even more productive advertising medium than the Internet.”

[Source: Bronnenberg, Bart. et al. “Do DVRs Influence Sales?” Journal of Marketing Research. Web. 11 May 2010]