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PVRS and advertising exposure: a video ethnographic study

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to understand the use of the personal video recorder (PVR) in the home and the impact on TV advertising exposure. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A video ethnographic study of 22 participants in eight homes with PVRs. Findings ‐ Use of the PVR differed widely between and within homes but of the 22 individuals, 21 used the PVR ‐ if at all, as a backup when there was nothing on that they wanted to watch live. Consequently, of 3,480 individual opportunities to see commercials during the study, Only 30 per cent were time-shifted and 70 per cent viewed live. Even for the 30 per cent of commercials that were time-shifted, there was variable but significant ad exposure. This paper suggests that in combination with other, complementary studies, the impact of PVRs on advertising exposure will be limited. Research limitations/implications ‐ Many respondents perceived themselves as using the PVR much more than they actually did and claimed to have zero exposure to commercials when they watched time-shifted programmes. In line with previous research, this shows that claimed behaviour is not reliable and it is important to observe actual behaviour in the natural context in order to understand future use of technology. As with all qualitative research the main limitation of this study is the small sample size. In practice, however, the results were very consistent with comparable results from the two main quantitative sources BARB and the Sky?+?panel. What our methodology provides, which quantitative methods cannot, is breadth and richness of insight into actual consumer behaviour in a natural context. The two methods are consistent and complementary. Further research could be improved if it was longitudinal and focused on the motivations to use and value of use of PVR and other emerging technologies, e.g. video on demand, internet protocol television and mobile TV. Originality/value ‐ The paper highlights the necessity of observing actual behaviour in order to gain an accurate understanding of the impact of new technologies on behaviour.
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Keywords: Advertising; Audiovisual media; Ethnography; Television; Video

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 5, 2008

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