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Online shopping boosted when TV viewers engage in social media

Image credit: Ksenia Kolesnikova | Dreamstime.com

Advertisers can benefit from a boost in online sales when television viewers multitask and engage in social media activity whilst watching certain programmes, by showing their ads that air on TV programmes with more ‘social TV’ activity, according to researchers from Indiana University and Emory University.

Beth Fossen of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, and David Schweidel of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, investigated how the volume of programme-related ‘online chatter’ is related to online shopping behaviour at the retailers that advertised during the programmes.

Social TV activity refers to people sharing their TV experience with others on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The researchers describe it as “the simultaneous consumption of television alongside social media chatter about the programming.”

Television viewers engage in social media activity a lot more often than they did in the past whilst watching certain programmes. In 2014, Nielsen estimated that 80 per cent of television viewers in the US simultaneously used another device.

Whilst this behaviour can boost engagement, there have been concerns that it could distract viewers from advertisements.

The study examined multi-source data from more than 1,600 ad instances on television advertising, social media conversations, and online shopping activity for five large retailers that advertised on 83 programmes during the autumn 2013 television season.

Furthermore, the researchers employed a hierarchical Bayesian model to see how television viewers’ online engagement with programmes impacts online traffic and sales at retailers that advertise during the programmes.

Fossen and Schweidel’s research found that ads that air in those programmes that had more social media activity also saw an increased ad responsiveness in terms of online shopping behaviours, suggesting that social television shows can be good for advertisers.

“We found that this pattern varied with the mood of the advertisement, with funny and emotional advertisements seeing the largest increases in online shopping activity,” Fossen said. “Our results shed light on how advertisers can encourage online shopping activity on their websites in the age of multi-screen consumers.”

“Our research indicates that there may be four key reasons why programmes with high online engagement may benefit advertisers,” Fossen added. “First, participation in online chatter about a programme may indicate that viewers are more engaged with the programme.”

“Second, online programme engagement may encourage loyal, committed viewing audience. Third, media multitasking may decrease the ability for the viewer to counterargue or resist persuasion attempts, increasing ad effectiveness.

“And finally, the activity can increase production and consumption of brand-related earned media. In other words, viewers who converse about the TV programme may also discuss the ads online.”

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