High-Energy Ad Content: A Large-Scale Investigation of TV Commercials



A trend reported by both academics and practitioners is that advertising on TV has become increasingly energetic. This study investigates the association between the energy level in ad content and consumers’ ad-tuning tendency. Using a data set of over 27,000 TV commercials delivered to U.S. homes between 2015 and 2018, the authors first present a framework to algorithmically measure the energy level in ad content from the video of ads. This algorithm-based measure is then compared with human-perceived energy levels showing that the measure is related to the level of arousal stimulated by ad content. By relating the energy levels in ad content with the ad-tuning tendency using two empirical procedures, the authors document the following: overall, more energetic commercials are more likely to be tuned in or less likely to be avoided by viewers. The positive association between energy levels in ad content and ad tuning is statistically significant after controlling for placement and other aspects of commercials. However, the association varies across product categories and program genres. The main implication of this study is that advertisers should pay attention to components of ad content other than loudness, which has been regulated by law.
Date made available2022
PublisherSAGE Journals

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