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Literature Review: The Impact of DVR on Advertising
Michelle Groene
Professor Shannon Mattern
Understanding Media Studies – Course # 6761
December 8, 2008
The increasingly widespread use of digital video recorders (referred to as DVR from this point
forward) has given consumers control over the advertising they watch or do not watch during
their television viewing experience. Headlines in the media have proclaimed that DVR will lead
to advertising’s demise, but in conducting research on this topic it would appear that the industry
professionals themselves are not ready to kill the 30-second spot just yet. DVR is the latest
challenge for an industry that has dealt with advertising avoidance for many years; the current
broadcasting/advertising model still exists despite previous threats like cable television, the
remote control and the VCR, which speaks to the resiliency of the industry. The academic and
professional research on the topic finds that, like the various technological inventions before it,
DVR does indeed have an impact on advertising, but the studies yield some positive results for
advertisers as well. Thus, the argument that will be made that DVR is an opportunity for the
advertising industry to reinvent itself and remain an effective force in the era of consumer
control; using the literature that exists on the topic to determine what still needs to be researched
and implementing some of these methods in order to create better, more effective advertising.
For the purposes of this literature review, the research will be organized into three sub-sections;
first, the media’s depiction of DVR as the death of advertising will be explored. Then the
behavioral patterns and responses of viewers in response to DVR will be analyzed, which will
lead to the final section, where strategies for advertisers to increase their effectiveness will be
discussed. Along the way, limitations in the particular studies will be noted, as well as future
opportunities for research, in order to present a comprehensive overview of DVR’s impact on
When DVR Attacks
Judging by the headlines of articles on the topic of DVR in relation to advertising, the future of
the industry looks bleak. Proclamations like, “It Can Control Madison Avenue” (Posnock,
American Demographics) and “Are DVRs ‘Own Worst Enemy’ for Networks?” (Rash,
Advertising Age) are made, catching the attention of readers as an “advertisement” in and of
itself. Interestingly enough, the titles do not often reflect the tone of the article, wherein the
author quotes decidedly more positive industry professionals and shares quantitative results that
somewhat contradict the headline. John Rash writes in his article “Are DVRs ‘Own Worst
Enemy’ for Networks?” that, while network television, “with multiweek story arcs and season
ending cliffhangers is most susceptible to TiVo” (par. 1) it is still “far from being a worst enemy,
DVRs can be a network’s best friend, as they allow accommodations for the modern media
landscape and its infinite interruptions.” (par. 2) He relies on the evidence determined by ROI
(return on investment) measurements, which offers percentage information on DVR playback, to
make his point that, while DVR is a challenge to advertisers who lose viewers when
programming is recorded (advertisers don’t account for those who view programming more than
three days after air), certain genres lend themselves to a faster playback turnaround time, namely
complex programming like ABC’s “Lost” or popular water-cooler shows like CW’s “Gossip
Girl,” which can help advertisers decide what programming is worth making their investment in.
Despite its threatening title, Susan Thea Posnock’s article “It Can Control Madison Avenue” also
offers some sound findings for advertisers. She notes that industry professionals “are not
panicking – at least, not yet. Instead they are looking at how DVRs will change the way people
watch television and receive ads and how to adjust to the shift.” (30) Her methodology included
conducting interviews with a range of advertisers who provide insight into the shift from
advertising domination to one of consumer control because of the advent of DVR. They touch
upon the need for advertisers to work with the audience’s power, rather than against it, by
encouraging interactive ads and targeted advertising. Posnock notes that, advertisers “are
experimenting with ways to reach consumers behind the 30-second ad. As a result, the line
between entertainment and advertising is becoming blurred.” (30) Emily Nussbaum’s New York
magazine article “What Would Tina Fey Do for a SoyJoy?” explores this closing gap between
advertising and programming; her tone is decidedly less optimistic than Posnock’s as she writes,
“Shows themselves are brands, actors are brands, and so are songs and sodas, and these entities
link and detach with the elegance of acrobats. No one will see a distinction between a
scriptwriter and a copywriter – least of all an audience member.” (90)
Whether presented as a positive or negative change, these articles all come to the conclusion that
advertisers need to find better ways to reach consumers in the face of DVR. Better product
placement and better placement of ads themselves are tangible changes that advertisers can work
on, which should help create new headlines and stories for the media. It should also be noted that
a weakness in these articles in particular is that a lot of the information presented here is based
upon projections and strategies that haven’t been measured yet, or were determined by a limited
amount of available quantitative research. What has been done so far, particularly in Posnock’s
article, is a start in the right direction in terms of establishing some effective ways for advertisers
to reach consumers, but unfortunately more time and analysis of the behavior and trends in
regards to DVR is needed in order determine what is effective and what is not. Additionally,
future research should address whether or not quantitative data is the best way to measure the
success of product placement or integrated advertising; employing new research methods like
field studies and focus groups, taking a more qualitative approach, would likely yield more
valuable insights from the consumers themselves.
Behavioral Analysis of Viewers
While studying the effects of DVR on advertising might still be in the early stages, analyzing
behavioral patterns of viewers is nothing new. John Fortunato states in his 2005 Journal of
Interactive Advertising article “Adoption of Digital Video Recorders and Advertising: Threats or
Opportunities” that, “every time the technological communication environment changes and
causes the mass media use behavior of the audience to change, the advertising…must also
change.” (par. 2) DVR’s precursor, the VCR, certainly changed the way that audiences used
media; it introduced a new method of advertising avoidance referred to as zipping (or fast-
forwarding) through commercials on pre-recorded programs.
Robert Gilmore and Eugene Secunda released an article in 1993 entitled “Zipped TV
Commercials Boost Prior Learning” which explored the effect that zipping has on brand recall,
recognition and attitude towards a brand. Their findings are often cited in more recently
published articles because DVR poses essentially the same threat as the VCR, thus the value in
their findings is still relevant. In their research, Gilmore and Secunda “experimentally created
familiarity by varying the number of normal-speed repetitions of the commercials before
zipping.” (29) This was done to more closely replicate how a viewer would naturally come
across ads, and to help them analyze whether or not previous exposure to ads had an impact on
viewing them later on in zipping conditions. Their results showed that repetition is initially good
for the recall of advertisements and recognition of brands that are later seen in zipped conditions,
but that overexposure can diminish positive feelings about the brand. While their findings set a
precedent in establishing that zipped commercials can still be effective, Gilmore and Secunda did
not explore whether or not zipping through ads increases the viewer’s threshold in terms of
retaining positive feelings towards frequently played ads.
The 2002 article “Remote Control Marketing: How Ad Fast-Forwarding and Ad Repetition
Affect Consumers,” (Martin, Le Nguyen and Wi) picks up where Gilmore and Secunda left off,
incorporating the same methodology they used in order to studying “the interaction effects of
zipping and repetition. This study begins to address this neglected area of research.” (45) They
reported that “recognition levels for zipped ads are only slightly less than those of normal speed
ads” (47), meaning that viewers recognize the ads almost as quickly under zipped conditions as
when viewing at normal speed. The Wall Street Journal reported on a study conducted by NBC
that analyzed what elements make some ads easier for viewers to recognize and recall than
others. They found that, “The most successful ads concentrated the action and the brand’s logo in
the middle of the screen, didn’t rely on multiple scene changes, audio or text to tell the story, and
often used familiar characters.” (par. 3) This suggests that zipping behavior involves focusing
more intently on the middle of the screen and scanning for familiar faces for cues that the
program has resumed. It also suggests that viewers can comprehend the plot of an ad if it is
simple enough to make sense when in fast forward.
While these findings certainly provide advertisers with some insight into behavior patterns of
consumers zipping through ads, an obvious limitation in this study was that it was conducted by
NBC, who has a vested interest in keeping their advertisers happy. As blogger Glen Gabe of The
Internet Marketing Driver pointed out in response to this study, “it was for networks trying to
hold on to TV advertisers at all costs, right?” (par. 3) Despite its limitations, this study
establishes some patterns in viewer behavior, which will allow future research to explore these
findings more in-depth, such as determining which logo colors are more easily recognizable and
the minimum length of time a logo is needed onscreen to be effective in fast-forward. What is
going to be the biggest challenge in studying viewing behavior for future researchers is the pace
at which technology is moving forward. As Mediaweek suggested in their own analysis of DVR
patterns, “The idea is to take a good hard look at the American television viewer and keep pace
with their changing TV viewing behavior.” (par. 2) They reported that 16% of people watch
eleven or more programs per week on DVR, and that right now approximately 5% of total
primetime ads are being skipped. Additionally they found that approximately 13% of viewers
who own a DVR do not use it, which suggests an area for future research to explore: how much
do viewers value their DVR? What would it take for them to stop using it? In regards to the
people who record eleven or more programs a week, it would be interesting to explore the latent
effects of advertising on those viewers versus someone who watches less television, and is thus
exposed to less advertising, even if both groups are zipping through the ads.
Effective Strategies for Advertisers
Charles Gulas and Marc Weinberger note in their book Humor in Advertising: A Comprehensive
Analysis that, “The entertainment value of advertising has become more important as
technology, remote control (zapping), and fast forward (zipping) have allowed consumers to
more easily escape from broadcast advertising.” (16-17) Humor is certainly an effective strategy
for advertisers to employ; as Gulas and Weinberger suggest, if people feel as though they’re
being entertained by advertising, they are more likely to tolerate it. It is important to note,
however, that as previous studies on the matter suggest (like the one conducted by Gilmore and
Secunda in 1993), advertising much more easily recognizable if the audience has seen the ad at
least one time at normal speed. So even if someone is zipping through a commercial break, if
they see an ad that they recognize as having been particularly funny, they may stop and rewind
the ad to watch it again. In Rash’s previously mentioned article “Are DVRs ‘Own Worst Enemy’
for the Networks?” he indicates “the genre with the lowest DVR playback – but often with the
highest ratings – is sports” (par. 11). This is valuable information for advertisers; a good strategy
for ensuring that funny ads are seen might be to increase the ad’s rotation in live sports
programming, which audiences are watching in real-time, thus they will recognize it more easily
when they are zipping through other programming.
In their article 2008 “Breaking Through Fast-Forwarding: Brand Information and Visual
Attention,” authors Brasel and Gips set out to explore how “fast-forwarding through
commercials change a viewer’s visual search pattern and perception…given a better
understanding of how fast-forwarding affects perception, what marketer-controllable elements
can influence the effectiveness of fast-forwarded advertisements?” (31) Using high-tech eye-
tracking equipment, they scientifically confirmed what the previously conducted NBC study
uncovered, which is that logos which are centrally located onscreen, as well as heavy branding
are the visual cues that viewers pick up on when viewing ads in fast forward, with their attention
focused on the middle of the screen. Participants in the study were then given Likert scale
questionnaires that were used to determine the link between brand attitude and behavioral intent;
those with heavy branding and central logos scored high marks in viewer’s positive attitudes
towards a brand, but did not increase their intent to purchase. This reveals an area for future
research – what visual cues will lead to an increase in a viewer’s intent to purchase a product?
The answer might lie in better technology; Brian Steinberg reported recently in his Advertising
Age article “Addressable Ads Could Reinvigorate TV” that Dish Network and an advertising
technology firm reached a deal involving “advanced receivers” that “calls for developing of the
ability to sell ads that can be sent to specific households based on geographic and demographic
information.” (par. 2) This technology is known as “creative versioning” and as it becomes
available in homes as early as the first quarter of 2009 it can help advertisers reach their targeted
consumers more easily.
These strategies and new monitoring technology are especially crucial for advertisers to employ
considering the number of homes with DVR will only increase as more people embrace the
device. Douglas Ferguson and Elizabeth Perse’s 2004 article “Audience Satisfaction Among
TiVo and ReplayTV users” studied the primary uses for DVR in terms of audience satisfaction,
noting that the ability to fast-forward through advertisements and the sense of control that gave
viewers was their favorite feature about their DVR. If the suppliers, or DVR distributors, make
strides in framing the device as a “supply-side innovation,” as M. Bjorn von Rimscha suggests in
his 2005 article, “How the DVR is Changing the TV Industry – A Supply-Side Perspective,”
there is a possibility that the power will change from the hands of advertisers to the hands of
DVR distributors, and advertisers may have to rely on DVR companies to strike a deal in which
advertising is not able to be skipped. This is only one possible scenario that could come from an
increased use in DVR; at this point it’s important to remember the limitations of each of these
particular studies and use the evidence and theories presented as a means in which to provide
examples of possible ways to invigorate the process of creating advertisements, rather than
relying on these conclusions as definitive answers for advertisers. A combination of these
strategies is a realistic approach for conducting future research; for example, sampling groups to
see if those receiving targeted advertising (based on information provided by the advanced
receivers) are using their DVRs to fast-forward through advertising less, and also using the
device to target ads based on certain elements, such as a particular demographic’s perceived
sense of humor, are two areas that could present more relevant data for advertisers.
There is no disputing the fact that DVR has impacted the way that viewers watch television, and
this impact will have an effect on the current advertising/broadcast model of television. The
degree to which the disruption will affect the current model still remains to be seen, but it is the
perfect opportunity for advertisers to be conducting more research on the topic from both a
qualitative and a quantitative standpoint, and incorporating some of their findings into their
commercials. From a personal standpoint, an area of interest for future research lies in the notion
of incorporating humor into advertising in a way that will be effective under zipped conditions.
While humor is subjective, it can be analyzed from various techniques to determine which type
of humor works best at capturing a viewer’s attention and helps them to remember the brand in a
positive way. The research that has been studied thus far helps pave the way in terms of
providing effective methods of conducting future research, noting the strengths and limitations of
such areas as behavioral analysis. The hope in conducting more research in this topic is to
eventually contribute to the creation of better advertising. Even in an era of DVR and consumer
control, we are still consumers and we still like to be entertained, so if advertisers can effectively
utilize elements like humor, centrally located logos and strategic placement of their ads to
capture the attention of consumers, their chances of reaching the consumer and entertaining them
Works Cited
Brasel, S. Adam, and James Gips. “Breaking Through Fast-Forwarding: Brand Information and
Visual Attention.” Journal of Marketing Vol. 72 (2008): 31-48.
Ferguson, Douglas A., and Perse, Elizabeth M. “Audience Satisfaction Among TiVo and
ReplayTV Users.” Journal of Interactive Advertising 4.2 (2004): 43 pars. 13 October 2008
Fortunato, John A., and Windels, David M. “Adoption of Digital Video Recorders and
Advertising: Threats or Opportunities.” Journal of Interactive Advertising 6.1 (2005): 51 pars. 13
October 2008
Gabe, Glenn. “The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand
Out?” Weblog entry. Blog – Internet Marketing Driver. 1 April 2008. The Internet Marketing
Driver. 13 October 2008
Gilmore, Robert F. and Secunda, Eugene. “Zipped TV Commercials Boost Prior Learning.”
Journal of Advertising Research (1993): 28-38. General OneFile Gale . New School Library,
New York, NY. 8 November 2008
Gulas, Charles S., and Weinberger, Marc G. Humor in Advertising: A Comprehensive Analysis.
Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2006.
“How Do You TiVo? OTX Analyzes DVR Patterns and Their Influence on Advertising to the
U.S. TV Viewer.” Mediaweek. 21 April 2008: 26.
Kang, Stephanie. “Why DVR Viewers Recall Some Spots.” The Wall Street Journal. 26
February 2008. 13 October 2008
Martin, Brett; Le Nguyen, Vicky Thuy-Uyen, and Wi, Ji-Yeon. “Remote Control Marketing:
How Ad Fast-Forwarding and Ad Repetition Affect Consumers.” Marketing Intelligence &
Planning 20.1 (2002): 44-48. ProQuest. New School Library, New York, NY. 8 November 2008
Nussbaum, Emily. “What Tina Fey Would Do for a SoyJoy.” New York Magazine. 13 October
2008: 32-37.
Posnock, Susan Thea. “It Can Control Madison Avenue.” American Demographics 26.1 (2004):
28-33. EBSCOhost. New School Library, New York, NY. 8 November 2008
Rash, John. “Are DVRs ‘Own Worst Enemy’ for Networks?” Advertising Age. 14 October
2008. 14 October 2008
Steinberg, Brian. “Addressable Ads Could Reinvigorate TV.” Advertising Age. 17 November
2008. 17 November 2008
Von Rimscha, M. Bjørn. “How the DVR is Changing the TV Industry – A Supply-Side
Perspective.” The International Journal on Media Management 8.3 (2006): 116-124.
Wilbur, Kenneth C. “How the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) Changes Traditional Television
Advertising.” Journal of Advertising 37.1 (2008): 143-149.
copyright ©2010 michelle g. mason

Carryover effects of advertising on sales of durable goods

References and further reading may be available for this article. To view references
and further reading you must purchase this article.

Mark M. Moriarty
College of Business Administration, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

Available online 17 April 2002.

In a landmark paper, Clarke [Clarke, D.G., J. Marketing Res. 13 (November 1976): 345–357]
addressed the question of how long the carryover effect of advertising on sales persists.
Appropriate cautions are included in the conclusions reached by Clarke since the preponderance
of studies that he reviewed involved mature frequently purchased low-priced products. His
conclusion is that, for such products, the carryover effect of advertising lasts a matter of months
rather than years. The current study examines durable goods and provides preliminary evidence
that for some durables, advertising effects may have a duration interval that exceeds a year