SAY Media, the newly rebranded VideoEgg, just did some research with comScore to find out what sort of trends there are in Live television viewing and advertising reach. It turns out that many of you (who live in America) are skipping the TV and getting your video entertainment “Off the Grid.” Of course, getting it online is probably more on the grid than TV is.

The research specifically aimed at  better understanding consumer media consumption and advertising effectiveness and key behavioral changes. They found that a full sixth of the US population, or about a third of the adult, online population in the US, is choosing video entertainment on their own schedules instead of being locked into when broadcasters want them to watch. Why? Well, they’re online and getting entertainment there, plus they’ve for time-shift and video-on-demand where they can simply skip over commercials etc.

What it means is that consumers are becoming more difficult to reach via television in general. Being able to get what you want, when you want it and without interruptions is truly the American was is it not? So the fact that so many have embraced this in the digital age should be no surprise. I wish I could take credit for this quote, but I can’t, “it is no longer the question of ‘what’s on’ but ‘what’s available.'”

The research also seems to give these viewers a lot of credit as we continually decide if it’s easier to watch the ads or skip them. Many of the early commercial skipping technologies never quite were satisfactory as far as I’m concerned but nowadays it’s far better.Break down of off the grid types

Within the Off the Grid segment, consumers can be further categorized into two sub-groups:

On Demander: 20 percent of online consumers fall into this segment. All of them watch less live TV than they did one year ago On Demanders access video through a variety of devices that allows them to time and location shift to meet their busy schedule.

  • They own an average of 5.4 devices for watching video, including their TV and PC.
  • Almost half of them subscribe to Netflix.
  • 40 percent own video-enabled mobile devices like smartphones or iPads.
  • Time and device shifting allows this group to consume 30 hours of video each week – compared to the Internet average of 25 hours per week.
  • This group is the most turned off by intrusive, repetitive advertising.

Opt Out: 13 percent of online consumers have completely opted out of live television and get their content by streaming across devices, through their DVR or on DVD.

  • 90 percent of this group actually does own a TV.
  • This group skews even younger, with 30 percent falling into the 18-24 demographic.
  • 41 percent live in urban areas.
  • They consume 21 hours of video content in a typical week – half of which is online.

“Getting people to engage in an on-demand world with so much fragmentation is the biggest challenge marketers face today,” said Matt Rosenberg, vice president of Solutions, SAY Media. “We’ve been delivering engagement for years and this study reconfirms that the best way to reach this audience of approximately 56 million is with respectful, content-driven advertising that lets the user be in control.”

It sort of puts into perspective all that research that shows how effective it is to give the viewers choice in the ads they see and the frequency of viewing. There was some recent research that said online ad frequency was far less than that of TV and I believe that it will need to stay that way or else we will see yet another migration of the viewers. Many of us are trying to escape from a world where advertisers and broadcasters dictate when we will see an advertisement (which I think is always and everywhere). All of this new technology is only helping us achieve what we feel is a better balance in the ad vs. content ratio. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t mind watching ads online if it gets me the content I want for free. However, I won’t pay to watch advertisements (are you listening Hulu!). Why would we do that when we can just DVR the same content that a site like Hulu has, and then skip over all of the commercials ourselves.

“Optimizing for effective frequency is expensive for advertisers and repetitive for consumers,” said Brian Monahan, executive vice president of Mediabrands’ IPG Media Lab. “We need new ways to speak to these consumers that provide them with a more meaningful, valuable brand experience.”

Giving users a choice in the ads they see is certainly a step in the right direction. Other steps might be to make the ads less intrusive and more interesting. Also, don’t jack up the volume on the ads over the standard content, don’t treat us like we’re stupid and don’t cram your stuff in our face all the time.

The Take Away

Mark is always asking me “what’s the take away?” I always want to tack on Kenneth at the end (What’s the frequency Kenneth?) So I thought I should tack on the take away from this research.

56 million American consumers prefer to get their video-oriented entertainment on their own terms.

That’s a pretty large section of the online populace and even the general populace. While they’re certainly not quite the majority (an estimated 236M Americans are 18+), they are a large number of consumers. So how will you target them with ads? Might I suggest, carefully and precisely? All sorts of new targeting is constantly being developed (I have a pretty cool article in the works for next week on this but can’t tell you on who) meaning you can better target your desired consumers and you can better target consumers who are actually interested in your product. So before doing random shotgun media blitzes and getting low ROI you might want to think about what it is exactly that you want to achieve and how best to do it. Obviously, many of us Digitites (that’s my newly coined word for the digital lifestyle population) are keen on getting what’s available instead of what’s being shown at a specific time.

The Digitites are, according to the research, educated, digitally focused, connected, engaged and influential. These are people that you want to reach. But they are also people that are savvy enough to avoid your attempts at reaching them. So, like I said, carefully and precisely will certainly be the ways to reach them.

The two-part study, conducted in conjunction with TRU and comScore, included both qualitative and quantitative results. TRU conducted eight in-home interviews with Off the Grid households in San Francisco and Chicago to better understand their technology usage, video watching trends and feelings about online advertising.

Additionally, comScore featured a carefully controlled, online survey with 1159 consumers. Those who took the survey were asked a variety of questions to help better identify themselves based on how they consume their media content.

The Opt Out group was defined as not owning a television or not watching live television in the past week and streaming more than 4 hours per week. The On Demander group was defined as streaming content more than 4 hours each week and spending more time streaming video than watching live television. All On Demanders watch less live TV than they did one year ago.