Does live tweeting while watching TV distract from the ads?

April 02, 2019

CATONSVILLE, MD, April 2, 2019 - Researchers from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and at Goizueta Business School at Emory University published new research in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science which reveals that advertisers can see a boost in online shopping when television viewers multitask and engage in social media activity while watching certain programs.

The study to be published in the April edition of the INFORMS journal Marketing Science is titled "Social TV, Advertising, and Sales: Are Social Shows Good for Advertisers?," and is authored by Beth Fossen of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, and David Schweidel of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

Nielsen in 2014 estimated that 80 percent of U.S. television viewers simultaneously used another device while watching television. The habit of live tweeting and using social media while watching TV has been dubbed "social TV."

This trend has concerned some in the media and advertising industries over whether it hinders the effectiveness of the advertisements that run during specific television programs. The study sought to determine how the volume of program-related online chatter is related to online shopping behavior at the retailers which advertised during the programs.

They found that ads that air in those programs that had more social TV activity also saw an increased ad responsiveness in terms of online shopping behaviors.

"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," said Fossen. "Our results shed light on how advertisers can encourage online shopping activity on their websites in the age of multiscreen consumers."

The researchers took into account online traffic and sales on retailers' websites, primetime television advertising for the retailers, social media chatter mentioning the TV program or the advertisers, and both the advertising and program characteristics. The study examined data from more than 1,600 ad instances for five retailers that advertised on 83 programs during the fall 2013 television season.

"Our research indicates that there may be four key reasons why programs with high online engagement may benefit advertisers," said Fossen. "First participation in online chatter about a program may indicate that viewers are more engaged with the program. Second, online program 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 program may also discuss the ads online."
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About INFORMS and Marketing Science

Marketing Science is a premier peer-reviewed scholarly marketing journal focused on research using quantitative approaches to study all aspects of the interface between consumers and firms. It is published by INFORMS, the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. More information is available at http://www.informs.org or @informs.

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

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