Research confirms shorter ads make more sense in DS

In what many of us might consider an expensive reinforcement of the blindingly obvious, Nielsen Media  Research has handed off its test results that confirm 15 second ads work better than 30s when the screens are bolted on top of gas pumps.

Gas Station TV, a provider of digital out-of-home television, said that the results of a Nielsen Media Research study prove that consumers recall shorter form 10- and 15-second advertisements viewed on the Gas Station TV Network (GSTV) more effectively than traditional 30-second spots. The purpose of the research was to determine the effectiveness of shorter ads versus traditional spots on the GSTV Network during a time of increased demand for measurable return on investment.

“Our comparison study shows that the unique media environment at Gas Station TV proves equivalent advertising recall effectiveness with shorter form 10- or 15-second ads versus traditional 30-second ads,” said Paul Lindstrom, vice president of Nielsen Media Research.

The study was conducted over a two-week period at 24 GSTV-equipped U.S. gas stations in top media markets including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Dallas, where two national advertisers featured 10-, 15- and 30-second ad spots similar in style, tone and message on the GSTV Network within regular programming. Customers over the age of 18 at participating stations were randomly selected to complete a 16-question survey measuring gas station behaviors, advertising recall and purchase intent.

Key findings from the GSTV/Nielsen Media Research study included:

  • When comparing the recall for different ad lengths, results indicated that one 15-second spot for Werther’s candy was 7% more effective than its 30-second counterpart. When evaluating return-on-investment (ROI), value for this 15-second ad was 108% greater than its 30-second equivalent on the GSTV network.
  • Another 10-second spot, featuring Kellogg’s Pop Tarts on GSTV, had 2% higher ad recall, generating 156% greater ROI when compared to its 30-second counterpart on the GSTV network.
  • Nearly 90% of survey respondents indicated that they watched or listened to Gas Station TV while refueling their vehicle.
  • Among all commercial spot lengths, an overwhelming majority of survey respondents consistently indicated their likelihood to purchase the products featured on GSTV, with as much as 89% of consumers indicating their willingness to purchase the featured product after viewing the ad.

There are precious few digital sign network environments that can support longer form ads — though many, many try — and gas pumps are definitely not one of them. So my primary reaction is to emulate my teenaged daughter and do one of her, “Well … DUH!” things.

I’m not sure I know how ROI is calculated on ad recall, but I suspect people hired by Nielsen didn’t drop Math in high school as soon as they were technically allowed. So there’s a formula of some kind for that.

The interesting numbers for me are the last two – overall audience size (which seems REALLY high) and
the almost equally high “willingness” to purchase (which at surface value looks like a great number to play up in media kits, though “willingness” is a really soft statement).

GSTV should be applauded both for investing in the research and more so for publishing it. Not enough networks are plowing money into research and seemingly few of those share what they learn. The short ads make more sense thing seems rather obvious, but it would not surprise if GSTV got that confirmed to shut down agency media planners who thought they knew better.

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