September 26, 2007
Discovery/Starcom Study Finds HD Ads Sigificantly More Successful

A new study that's been making its rounds finds that high-definition advertising content, at this stage, is a much more successful way to reach audiences.

The study, which was conducted in correlation with the upfront deal struck between the Discovery HD Theater channel and Starcom USA, found a lot of interesting points: that recall of brands was three times higher for HD users as compared to those watching commercials in standard-definition; that advertising was considered more enjoyable in HD; and that the "intent-to-purchase" was 55 percent higher comparing high-definition ads to standard-definition ads. The study looked at SD and HD viewers of Discovery programming and their ad recall rates.

I first heard about the study while reading a story by Jon Lafayette at TelevisionWeek. Lafayette points out that the deal putting Starcom clients on Discovery HD Theater, which isn't even monitored by Nielsen, also includes data from TNS Media Intelligence, based on second-by-second ratings.

I wrote about these second-by-second ratings last month, pointing out how the idea of second-by-second ratings improves upon minute-by-minute data by breaking down at the granularity of a particular advertisement, and even across the arc of that advertisement. I wrote, "Also as important, though, are all the caveats provided in the article: that the data is only from digital cable subscribers in the Los Angeles area, for instance, and that those 300,000 digital cable subscribers--who are with Charter Communications--cannot be measured when they are doing DVR playback, only that the program in question has been recorded."

The information both bolsters the worth of Discovery, and other HD content, and also helps create more of a business model around HD networks. Lafayette writes, "With the information in hand, Starcom will intensify its interest in buying time on independent HD networks, Ms. Scheppach said. The data also will help Starcom set pricing for ads on the channel, a process that had pretty much been guesswork before."

Lafayette points out that some of this premium, of course, is short-lived, since the length of time before the majority of channels are in HD is shortening. However, that window still has some time to close, and advertisers can capitalize on the HD audience at a point in which there is an ever-growing number of HD consumers but still a limit amount of supply for them.

The reasons for this is many; most prevalent is the newness of it, that because most advertising is NOT high-definition, that HD advertising gets people's attention. This "gee whiz" factor will eventually wear off, of course, but perhaps a continuing legacy are the ways in which HD advertising emphasizes advertising quality in a way that will stick in the minds of the industry.

I first wrote about these issues around this time last year, when discussions were focusing on how the majority of ads were still shot in standard-definition.