My paper with Joseph Redden and Justin Kruger, “Variety Amnesia: Recalling Past Variety Can Accelerate Recovery From Satiation”, has just been conditionally accepted at the Journal of Consumer Research! Time to celebrate.
Archive for January, 2009
I wish bloggers would contact me or one of my coauthors about their posts. For now, google is helping me find the coverage:
Thanks to Jesse I now know about two more blogs that covered the TV Commercials paper.
Here’s the radio interview that I recently did for Future Tense.
Brian Reich at Fast Company also picked up the TV Commercials paper. Here’s the story: ”Commercials Improve TV? I seriously doubt that.” Brian freely admits that he has only read the Boston Globe blurb and our abstract, but still goes after us. Without reading the paper itself, his criticisms appear fair, but are all acknowledged and refuted in the paper.
Kevin Lewis over at the Boston Globe apparently got wind of the TV Commercials article and wrote a small blurb yesterday. Here’s the link and here’s the copy:
WITH THE ADOPTION of digital video recorders, fewer people watch commercials on TV anymore. After all, it’s not like anyone wants to watch commercials (except during the Super Bowl, maybe). However, new research says that you may be missing out. When college students were asked to watch an episode of “Taxi,” they enjoyed the version with commercials more than the version without commercials. The same thing happened when watching a nature show, such that students who watched the version with commercials were more willing to donate to wildlife preservation. The effect arises because the novelty of an experience can wear off, and a break can reset one’s attention. There are a couple caveats to the effect, though: It doesn’t apply to older people (with their longer attention spans), or to exciting shows. Of course, if younger people watch only exciting shows, then advertisers may be out of luck anyway.
It’s obviously nice to get the coverage, but it would have been nicer had Mr. Lewis contacted one of us for a comment. Then, perhaps, he wouldn’t have been quite so dramatic in his statments of when and for whom this effect doesn’t apply.
Recently, Ars Technica, a technology blog wrote a nice summary of the paper that Leif, Tom and I published, “Enhancing the Television Viewing Experience through Commercial Interruptions”. I was actually quite surprised by the depth of the post and the fact that the author likely read the entire paper and not just the abstract (or title). He understood the main ideas and didn’t cherry pick topics to suit his needs. I commend him for this.
However, the comments posted in response to this post are absolutely hilarious. One of the major points of this paper is that despite the fact that TV commercials often make the TV show in which they are embedded more enjoyable, people fail to appreciate this. Let me say that again, people fail to appreciate this. And yet, the vast majority of the comments are of the form: “I don’t believe this research. After all, I hate commercials.” I couldn’t ask for anything better. Here are some choice examples:
Sorry, I’m not buying it.
Watching a TV show on DVD is SO much better than mainly because of no commercials.
I always skip through the commercials when watching stuff on the DVR which is 90+ Percentage of all my TV watching.
The fact that a lot people keep watching a series when they record it and skip the commercials proves that the study couldn’t be more wrong. Hell, some even only watch recorded shows just to skip the commercials. Others even drop cable and satellite in favor of watching the same shows on DVD, Hulu or even Bittorrent! I’m sorry, but real world evidence is completely counter to the study’s biased results.
I love that his example “proves that the study couldn’t be more wrong.”
We also make a point in the paper that this effect can not be due to contrast effects. In other words, commercials don’t make the show more enjoyable because they make the television program look better by comparison. We demonstrate this in one experiment by including a commercial break that is as enjoyable as the program and in another experiment where all participants receive the same commercials, just that for some of them the commercials disrupt the program and for others they don’t. Here’s a great comment suggesting just the opposite:
This is like saying if you eat dog crap in between meals, your regular food will taste better. Although it’s probably true, I’d rather just not eat the dog crap.
There was also a decent amount of inquiry as to who funded this research. The simple answer is that the Stern School of Business did. There was absolutely no outside funding and their was no subversive purpose to the research. Then again, from the comments:
Now, who wants to lay down a bet that this was funded by an ad company?
All in all, I’m simply very amused. People in the blogosphere often don’t read the entire paper (though I again commend the author of the original post for doing so) and choose to instead ignorantly criticize everything. On the surface it’s entertaining, but there is a more sinister side to this ignorance. Commenters will walk away thinking that they understand a concept that they really don’t. They will propagate this misinformation throughout the virtual and real world. And they will subsequently create false knowledge. This is the exact opposite goal of scientific inquiry and a real problem.
Oh well, for now I’ll stick with this being entertaining.
I recently had the pleasure of chatting on the phone with Jon Gordon of Future Tense, a radio personality for Minnesota Public Radio. Jon interviewed me about the paper that Leif, Tom, and I recently had electronically published at the Journal of Consumer Research, “Enhancing the Television Viewing Experience through Commercial Interruptions.” I have to admit that I was a bit nervous, but Jon did a great job of asking me poignant questions that (hopefully) yielded coherent and thoughtful answers.
The interview will likely air on Monday, though not in NYC. Thankfully, the broadcast will also go out over the internet and will be saved as a podcast and downloadable MP3 (all at this site).
I can’t wait to hear how it comes out!
Carnegie Mellon asked me to have a professional portrait taken for their website. I figured they wouldn’t object to me using the portrait for this site as well.
I would like to thank Dennis at The Visual Image in Merrick, NY who was both very professional and quite fun. I’m quite pleased with the final product and hope you are too.
For those of you that don’t know, a couple of years ago I created consumerbehaviorlab.com, an online research lab. I primarily use Flash to program the experiments and have collected a great deal of invaluable data. To date, my colleagues and I have run 80 experiments and collected data from 14,056 participants. Not bad for just over 2 years of up time! There are currently 2,755 active participants of varied demographic backgrounds.
This isn’t an attempt to brag, but rather a suggestion for other behavioral researchers: collect data online! It’s easy, fast, and inexpensive. We usually let participants participate for about 5 days (though 95% complete the study within 24 hours) and pay them with entry into a $50 lottery. When was the last time “real life” participants came that cheaply? So if you have the means, go out and conquer! There is much data to be had.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about online data collection, so if you have any questions about how I do it, don’t hesitate to ask.