52% of consumers tune out TV ads, says Midia Research

In an increasingly attention-saturated environment, consumers are forced to self-filter what they spend their attention on. What’s not making the cut? Ads — according to a new report from Midia Research.

The report entitled "Ad strategy in a digital-first environment: Rethinking acceptance, tolerance and effectiveness" used research from surveys conducted in the first quarter of 2021 across nine markets with 9,000 participants.

According to the report, 52% of all consumers stop paying attention when ads come on the TV, and that figure is as high as 61% for people aged 55 and over.

The research found that advertising suffers even more as consumers adopt more lean-forward behaviors related to streaming video. Online streaming services provide people with greater control of what they watch and when. And with an increasing preference for these lean-in platforms, consumers have a lower tolerance for served ads and are quick to tune them out. 

In the digital realm, skipping video ads online has increased since Q1 2019 across all age groups, most strikingly for those age 20-24 (up 26 points) and 25-34 (up 18 points). 

Midia chart

The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated the transition to a digital-first world and highlighted the long-term trend away from live TV engagement. In the first quarter of 2021, 33% of U.S. consumers over the age of 55 paid a monthly subscription for video – up from 26% in Q1 2019.

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Social media platforms have become notorious for individualized and targeted ads; however, this can often mean a user is subjected to similar ads for competing brands in a very short period of time, undermining brand recognition entirely or potentially inciting negative sentiment.

“Advertising has turned from brand recognition and loyalty to a click-through-to-purchase, instantaneous and one-off interaction – which is more of a roulette game to see which ad the user clicks on in their feed, rather than a long-term brand-consumer relationship,” said Hanna Kahlert, report author and Midia analyst, in a statement.

Midia suggests a cross-platform partnership strategy to meet the growing preference for lean-in content.