TV4 Play vs. social media: measuring attention and engagement with the help of science


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Background information

In this week’s egtabite, we delve into an intriguing research study carried out by TV4, the largest commercial broadcaster in Sweden, which aimed to compare their digital channel TV4 Play and the linear TV channel TV4 with the social media platforms TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, as well as local news sites. The goal of the study was to gather evidence and insights to improve TV4’s offerings and adapt their communication with clients and media agencies, by focusing on actual behaviour rather than self-reported behaviour of viewers.

The research was conducted by in-home study with audience measurement, using eye-tracking glasses and EDR sensors (Electrodermal Response), followed by in-depth interviews, all carried out by COG Research. Anders Eriksson, Head of B2B Insights at TV4, presented the research and its results at egta’s Market Intelligence Meeting in March, highlighting the importance of attention as a buzzword in the media world and the need to understand viewers’ experiences while watching content on different platforms. “We wanted to bring evidence and insights into our offers and adapt the we way talk to clients and media agencies,” he said.

Much higher ad attention and lower overload levels

The study found, unsurprisingly, that ads served on linear and BVOD platforms consistently achieve 100% opportunity to see (OTS), while social platforms have significantly lower attention levels due to the ease of skipping or scrolling past ads. In terms of actual attention, TV4 Play and linear platforms ranked much higher than other media platforms, with 73% of TV4 Play viewers focusing on ads during breaks.

Ad attention on TV4 Play and TV4 linear are much higher than on social media.

TV4 also examined engagement levels through EDR Sensors revealing that viewers experienced higher sensory overload when engaging with social media ads, which negatively impacted memory retention. Although engagement levels for social media were between 60-70%, overload was considerably higher than for TV4 Play and linear. Overall, TV4 Play generated five times higher ad engagement per minute than the social platforms. 

Media platforms’ level of engagement. Overload means that the mind cannot process the information, leading to viewers not remembering the ad as well as when engagement is normal.

Interestingly, interviews with viewers demonstrated that despite initially denying having paid attention to ads, participants did remember specific ad segments, individual ads, and some even took actions as a result of seeing the ads. This supports the long-term brand-building effects of TV and premium video content. “It shows that we pay more attention to TV ads than we think we do, and we remember them more than we realise,” Anders said.

Refined discussions with agencies and clients

TV4 has shared the findings of this study with media agencies and major clients and has presented them at marketing seminars. The insights have resonated well with the sell-side, particularly since attention is easier to understand than for example gross rating points (GRPs).

In summary, TV4’s research comparing their digital channel, TV4 Play, with other popular digital platforms has shed light on the attention and engagement levels of viewers across these platforms. The findings emphasize the advantages of TV4 Play and linear content in capturing viewer attention and driving higher ad engagement compared to social platforms. TV4 has successfully leveraged these insights to engage with media agencies, clients, and marketing professionals.