News & Opinion | March 21, 2019 3:30 pm

One Third of TV Ads Air To Empty Rooms

Six months worth of TV-viewing data was used in the study.

A new study found that a third of TV commercials air when no one is even in the room to watch them.

Based on six months worth of TV-viewing data, IPG Media Lab says that, on average, 29% of commercials in the US air when no one is in the room where they’re airing. To count as present in the room during the commercial, the viewer had to watch it for two or more seconds.

The “viewability,” a metric used in advertising, tracks the impressions users see. This has been a problem for digital ads as they load at the bottom of the page, but no one ever scrolled down to actually view the ad. Advertisers want to pay only for people are actually viewing.

About 32% of digital ads weren’t viewed in 2018, only slightly higher than those viewed on traditional TV ads.

The IPG report used a TVision panel of more than 5,000 people in TV’s top 20 markets in the United States. The participants installed technology on their television sets that would track whether or not they were in the room and watching as the ads played. The study tracked people who watched scheduled, live programming within the first three days of it airing.

Lots of factors contribute to whether or not someone will stick around to watch an ad like the length of the commercial, when it airs and placement within the program itself.