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Ad skipping technology not major threat to TV advertising

LONDON – TV advertising might not be as widely affected by ad-skipping technology as was first thought, according to a report by Starcom.

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The research found that TV viewers with personal video recorders, such as Sky+, saw 30% fewer ads than viewers with Sky Digital TV, but their awareness of advertising fell by just 17% from Starcom's previous research last year.

When PVRs were first introduced, it was seen by many as the beginning of the end for the traditional 30-second TV ad. 

Clare de Burca, head of proprietry research at Starcom, claimed that it could actually be beneficial for viewers, who are remembering the ads they do see by cutting out the clutter.

"If you have a PVR in your home, you are seeing less TV advertising but the ads you are seeing are working proportionately harder because you are not seeing as much clutter," De Burca said.

The report asked 700 adults in Sky+ homes and 700 adults in Sky Digital homes about 60 recent TV ads and 18 TV programme sponsorships.

Average awareness of the 60 brands in Sky Digital homes was 36%, this fell to 30% in Sky+ homes.

"TV advertising is more resilient than anticipated. The fact is people don't actively dislike TV ads -- they just often prefer to watch their favourite programmes uninterrupted by programme breaks.

"The new TV is about engagement and consumers will only give time to ads that are relevant to them," the report said.

The ad industry fears for its future because Sky+ technology is so sophisticated viewers can avoid watching almost all ads.

Currently PVRs are available in 770,000 homes in the UK and Ireland, compared with the 7.7m with Sky Digital. Both figures are expected to rise when BSkyB releases new data next Wednesday.

Promisingly though, the report suggested that TV sponsorship is a way round the problem of ad avoidance with sponsorship awareness levels falling by only 4% in homes with PVRs compared with digital homes.

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