For years, there has been concern in the TV advertising industry that the use of PVRs and DVRs would ruin sales numbers and force a revolution. According to research conducted at the University of Chicago, Tilburg University and Duke University - not so much.
Sales numbers for PVRs and DVRs including the vaunted TiVo continue to climb, and common knowledge held that as this market increased, the effectiveness of TV advertising, especially for new products, would decrease dramatically as people simply zoomed by commercials. A new study, however, shows that advertising's fear of the technology may be completely unfounded.
The tri-university study took a two-year look at participating households that were given a TiVo and told to watch TV as normal. TiVo provided data about the family's use of the product, and the families supplied information about their buying habits.
The conclusion? That nothing really changed, even among dedicated TiVo users. Brand-name rather than generic products were still purchased, new product lines got picked up by test subjects and this behavior was consistent across the entire two year study.
There are a number of explanations that have been put forth, including the notion that although users record a great deal of TV, they don't actually watch all that much of it, making the ads that they do skip minimal in the scheme of things. Another possibility is that those who watch "normal" TV simply get up during the commercials to use the washroom or get a drink and that they see the same amount of advertising as their TiVo'd counterparts. It is also conceivable, say the experts, that by watching their shows in a reduced-time format due to the recording, viewers have more time to watch regular TV and still see advertisements.
Perhaps the best explanation put forth for non-dropping sales numbers is the idea that TV commercials never really mattered all that much in the first place, and never really convinced anyone to buy anything. We can only hope.
So there you have it, folks - new-fangled technology doesn't seem to have an impact on traditional advertising, so don't feel guilty about buying that PVR for Christmas - you favorite ad company will be just fine.