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Streaming Services Deep Dive… | The Brand Strength Monitor / RDE Chart of the Week | Pre/Post Pandemic Penetration and Usage

June 22nd, 2021 Comments off

In our last Chart of the Week we started looking at the Subscription Video Streaming Services category and specifically the pandemic winner – HBO Max.  This week we’re taking a deep dive and examining the Pre/Post Pandemic Penetration and Usage by demographics.

The MSW TBSM tracking service measures category penetration and level of usage as one component of the survey.  A comparison of results taken before the beginning of the pandemic to a comparable assessment from May 2021 reveals explosive growth in the Subscription Streaming Video Services category.

  • Overall, category penetration increased from 75.4% to 86.6%, which represents a 15% increase.  Moreover, claimed heavy usage increased by over half during the pandemic, from 18.5% before the outbreak to 29.2% in May 2021.  Clearly, as a result of spending much more time at home during the pandemic, people were turning to video entertainment.

 

  • Those demographic groups which have seen particularly large gains include:
    • Women, with heavy usage of streaming video services more than doubling.
    • Age 55 Plus, which had the lowest pre-pandemic penetration, but closed the gap substantially, reaching penetration of 70% in the latest reading.
    • Below Median Income, clearly also looking for entertainment options and perhaps enticed by some of the newer services, particularly lower cost “basic” plans.

 

  • Clearly these results are consistent with the surge in subscription levels reported by the major subscription streaming video services for 2020:
    • Netflix added 37 million new subscribers worldwide in 2020 – easily the largest annual increase since expanding into video streaming 14 years ago.
    • Hulu added 9 million new subscriptions, a 29.6% year-over-year increase.
    • While Disney+ debuted with very strong numbers pre-pandemic, growth continued to surge through the pandemic. The service hit 100 million subscribers in March 2021; a remarkable feat for a service just over a year old which initially hoped to reach 60 to 90 million subscribers by 2024.
    • At the end of the first quarter of 2021, HBO and HBO Max totaled 44.2 million domestic subscribers – far exceeding the 33.1 million subscribers a year ago (before HBO Max).

 

While subscriber growth is seen to be slowing with the easing of the pandemic, it is clear the pandemic accelerated the trend toward the use of streaming services, particularly among those groups which had been slower to adopt the technology.

 

| The Brand Strength Monitor / RDE Chart of the Week | HBO MAX: Pandemic Winner

June 9th, 2021 Comments off

MSW’s RDE Analytic Framework rests on a study that found that three equity dimensions (Relevance, Differentiation, Emotion) are responsible for driving a significant portion of brand growth. The RDE composite strongly relates to – and helps explain – CCPreference which itself is a validated predictor of market share.

Comparing RDE Assessment taken before the pandemic to comparable assessment from May 2021 reveals one brand in the Subscription Video Streaming Services category that has emerged as a winner – HBO Max.

  • HBO Max was launched in May 2020 well after the COVID pandemic was underway. It essentially replaced the previous HBO streaming service, HBO Now, but with a huge amount of new content from a variety of WarnerMedia brands.
  • Despite RDE levels being generally depressed as a result of the pandemic, HBO Max RDE levels easily surpass HBO Now pre-pandemic levels.
    • HBO Max easily outstrips HBO Now on all three RDE dimensions.
    • HBO Max is particularly strong in terms of relevance meaning that SVOD consumers feel that the HBO Max service is for someone like them.

  • HBO Max also far exceeds HBO Now in terms of CCPreference – the percent of consumers preferring HBO Max over competitors in the subscription streaming services category. This suggests that HBO Max should be performing well in the marketplace. How has it done?
  • HBO Max’s strength is its large and varied TV and movie catalog. In addition, Warner Brothers has been releasing its 2021 movies on HBO Max simultaneous with the theatrical release which has proven very popular.
    • At the end of the first quarter of 2021, HBO and HBO Max totaled 44.2 million domestic subscribers – far exceeding the 33.1 million subscribers a year ago (before HBO Max).
    • A report from Reelgood indicated HBO’s share of streaming activity rose from 2.0% in Q1 of 2020 (pre-HBO Max) to 12% in Q4 2020, placing HBO Max ahead of Disney+ and behind only Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu.
  • This success – mirrored by extremely strong CCPreference growth – has come despite a soft launch which slowly added support for many popular streaming devices, the COVID pandemic and accompanying economic downturn, and ever-increasing competition in the streaming video space.

The RDE composite is strongly related to brand preference in this category, with a correlation of 0.96

Stop Them in Their Tracks! The Importance of Gaining Viewer Interest Quickly

June 21st, 2018 Comments off

Stopping Power in advertising can be defined as an advertisement’s ability to capture audience attention and interest.  For a print advertisement this would represent an ad causing a reader to stop reading an article or flipping the pages and take notice of the ad.  For a video commercial this would represent an ad’s ability to capture a viewer’s mental attention (versus such things as competing screens, idle conversation, a quick zap from the remote or perhaps a journey to the fridge for a snack).  Logically, stopping power would be expected to raise the likelihood of viewers actually receiving the advertisement’s intended message.

 

The Benefit of Stopping Power

Among the various ways to measure stopping power, MSW-ARS has used the Scene-to-Scene Trace technique to gauge respondent interest in a commercial. The Scene-to-Scene Trace illustrates how quickly the ad is able to build – or lose – interest, making it a meaningful measure of an ad’s stopping power.

 

 

One useful metric we have derived from studying interest profiles is the slope of the interest profile in the first 5-seconds of a video advertisement. A stopping power hurdle based on the opening slope of the interest profile has been established. The 41% of cases in the MSW-ARS database which were able to attain this hurdle have CCPersuasion® scores which are substantially stronger than those which do not exceed this hurdle.

 

 

While stopping power is clearly beneficial, it should be noted that it is equally important to sustain interest throughout an ad. In fact, those ads that are able to grab attention and hold onto it (by meeting an average interest level hurdle) have even stronger CCPersuasion results, on average.

 

 

Achieving Stopping Power – Visual Complexity

A study published in the paper “The Stopping Power of Advertising: Measures and Effects of Visual Complexity” (Pieters, Wedel & Batra, Journal of Marketing, September 2010) assessed the effect of visual complexity on stopping power for print advertising.  This study found that two types of visual complexity – Feature Complexity and Design Complexity – had opposite effects on the stopping power of print ads.

According to the paper, ads with feature complexity “contain more detail and variation in their basic visual features, color, luminance, and edges” and are “visually cluttered”.  Ads with this type of complexity were found to have poor stopping power.  As an example, this ad from LG is extreme in the detail and variation of its visual features and colors.

 

 

Ads with design complexity are characterized by “the structured variation in terms of specific shapes, objects, and their arrangements in the advertisement” and “intricacy of the creative design”.  The paper established six dimensions to quantify the degree of design complexity of a print ad:

  • Quantity of objects (many = complex)
  • Irregularity of objects (irregular = complex)
  • Dissimilarity of different objects (dissimilar = complex)
  • Detail of individual objects – not the ad as a whole (detailed = complex)
  • Asymmetry of object arrangements (asymmetric = complex)
  • Irregularity of object arrangement (irregular = complex)

Ads with this type of complexity were found to have strong stopping power.  This ad from Bumble Bee has a relatively large number of distinct objects which are irregular and dissimilar (particularly the different ingredient pictures) with extensive detail in the dominant image.  The offset of the can provides an additional feeling of asymmetry and irregularity of object arrangement.

 

 

Observations from Video Ads with Strong Stopping Power

In a non-scientific attempt to understand what type of content in the first 5 seconds of video ads might be driving initial stopping power, the thirty video ads with the highest interest profile opening slope in the MSW-ARS database were reviewed. The following elements were observed across multiple of these ads with strong stopping power:

  • Music: particularly music which is lively or suggesting suspense or tension
  • Creative Demonstration: a visually engaging demonstration of the product in action
  • Suspense: Images or action that provoke curiosity and keep viewers engrossed
  • Surprise: An unexpected or novel visual element
  • Provocative Statement: Some promise that may sound too good to be true – e.g., “How would you like to look ten years younger”
  • Facial Close-Up: This was particularly true for beauty care ads. Note that research has shown that faces have a strong tendency to draw viewer attention and so are likely to detract from the ad’s effectiveness if the facial image is not related to the product itself.
  • Scenic Beauty: Needs to relate to the ad’s message
  • Children: Caution is also advised in using children, as most of the cases with children had weak CCPersuasion scores possible due to the presence of children not being consistent with the ad’s message or taking attention away from focus on the product.

Note that many of these elements are consistent with the idea of design complexity in that they are related to creativity and the presentation of ideas in a visually unique and engaging manner. A number of the most successful cases have no spoken words in the first 5 seconds but instead use music or visuals to gain viewer interest and attention.  Also it is important that the brand’s identity and the ad’s message not get lost in pursuit of misguided creativity (that which entertains but does not sell).

 

Some Examples

The following ad for Kohler had very strong stopping power, with an opening slope of over 3 times the hurdle level. Not only does it have lively music and a brisk pace, it also is completely product focused and demonstrates the product’s functionality in a creative way.  It also seems to adhere to the principles of using visual complexity by keeping it simple (avoiding the visual clutter of feature complexity), but also attaining design complexity through varying not only the number, arrangement and size of the shower heads but also the speed and type of demonstrations.

 

 

TurboTax’s Humpty Dumpty ad brings both suspense (the urgency of the armor clad men rushing through a modern urban landscape) and surprise (the unexpected visual of the shattered figure of Humpty Dumpty) in its first five seconds.

 

 

This Super Bowl ad from Intel gains attention by making the provocative claim that “Intel 360 Replay makes everything look epic.”

 

 

The opening of the following viral ad for Miss Dior perfume features a facial close-up (of Natalie Portman) which may work in this case since the product is all about allure and image.  Its music also evokes a feeling of tension and suspense which likely aids in generating strong stopping power.

 

 

Kia’s popular Super Bowl ad featuring Melissa McCarthy opens with a shot of a Kia driving through a forest of soaring pines.  Ultimately this opening visual of scenic beauty is tied to the message of Kia’s crossover vehicle being the most fuel efficient in its class.

 

 

For more information on how our communications research tools can help improve your advertising’s effectiveness, please contact us at aklein@msw-ars.com.