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80% Of Millennials Will Watch A TV Show After Watching A Promo Shared With Them Online

But new report from video ad tech company Unruly finds TV marketers failing to engage digital natives; research also finds TV promos generate lower-than-average brand recall

NEW YORK – April 29, 2015 – Eighty percent of Millennials are likely to watch a TV show if they have watched a promo shared with them online.

That’s according to new research from video ad tech company Unruly, which found that 80% of digital natives will tune into a TV show if someone in their social network had shared a trailer, a clip or an original promo for that show. This is compared to 66% of average TV viewers.

However, the report also found that Millennials are 10% less likely to share TV promo content than the average TV viewer, suggesting that TV marketers are failing to create content that resonates with Millennials. Further, US Millennials spend less time watching TV than any other demographic according to Nielsen[1] showing that networks are struggling to connect with a Millennial audience.

Scott Button, Unruly CEO, said: “TV marketers are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow their audiences. We may be in a Golden Age of television content, but the way TV networks are currently promoting their shows to new viewers is missing the mark on digital and social media. Audience fragmentation, ad avoidance and social discovery are all powerful forces for disruption and we’re seeing a big increase in the number of TV networks reaching out to us to help them solve the strategic challenges that digital transformation poses to their business models and their bottom line.”

Other findings from the report, which analyzed 14,221 TV promos, including show clips (standalone scenes from an episode that has already been aired), original promos (newly filmed original content) and trailers (a compilation of teaser clips, usually with voiceover and additional editing) from the Big 5 networks in the US, include:

  • Rate of TV promo sharing more closely correlates to Nielsen Ratings than number of promo views: The more shares a TV network generates for its promos, the more likely that will translate into ratings. The front runner, NBC, generated 39% share of shares and a 33% of overall Nielsen ratings;
  • NBC is winning on social reach and engagement: NBC is leading the way on social video, with 48% share of online promo views and 39% of promo shares. ABC follows in both categories, with 27% of promo views and 34% of promo shares;
  • Millennials are 39% more likely to watch online video content on their smartphones than the average TV viewer and 14% more likely to watch TV on their laptops, while less than half (42%) still watch online video in the living room through connected TVs;
  • Original promos are the most viral type of TV promo for US audiences: While low-cost TV clips are the most prevalent form of TV promotional content and represent the majority of TV content launched online, original promos are actually the most shareable form of promotional content, with an average share rate of 9%, compared to the average 2.1% of branded content;
  • TV Networks are missing out on brand recall: All of the promos tested in the Unruly TV Promo and Millennial study – for the top rated network shows – fell well below the US market norm for brand recall from online videos (at only 75%);
  • Jimmy Kimmel Show created the most shareable TV promo for a Millennial audience. From July 2015 to December 2014, the most intrinsically shareable piece of content for Millennials was the Jimmy Kimmel Live clip YouTube Challenge – I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy 2014, with a Millennial ShareRank score of 7.6. This video was polarizing, with the funniest triggers evoking shock and disgust among some Millennials.

Button added: “We’re seeing a promo paradox – TV networks are known for telling great stories in their programming, but they’re not creating engaging promos to support this great content. Millennials are highly peer-influenced, with 80% citing that they’d check out a show after receiving a shared online TV promo. Yet the promos aren’t strong enough for Millennials to want to share.

“Even worse, TV promos aren’t creating a memorable experience with viewers. Of the videos we tested in our study, show recall fell well below the US market norm for brand recall in traditional ads, making it difficult for even a motivated Millennial to remember which show they wanted to see. TV marketers need to start making promos that resonate with Millennials and more heavily call out their shows if they want to change viewer habits and drive new viewers to tune-in.

“But it’s not just about having strong content, that’s only half the battle. You have to get your content seen quickly. With nearly half of a total video’s shares occurring in the first three days after launch, marketers have a very short window within which to drive TV tune-in. As marketers prepare for the 2015 Digital Newfronts, these principles can be applied to create engaging promos to drive traffic to both short form and long form content.”




The Science of Sharing: TV Promos and the Millennial Shift surveyed 500 people and analyzed 14,221 TV promos from the Big 5 US network to uncover what makes Millennials take notice of network TV promos, and how to target them online to generate intent-to-view. As well as survey findings, it includes data-driven recommendations on using TV promos to engage and target a Millennial audience.

Definitions: We use “TV promo” as an umbrella term which includes any online video content designed to promote a TV show. It includes clips: standalone scenes from an episode that has already been aired; original promos: newly filmed original content, often featuring one or more actors; and trailers: a compilation of teaser clips, usually with voiceover and additional editing.

The Science of Sharing: TV Promos and the Millennial Shift is the latest report in Unruly’s Science of Sharing series, which looks at how marketers can optimize their online video marketing activity. Earlier studies focus on consumer tech, the auto industry, the movie industry and Super Bowl advertising.


About Unruly

Video ad tech company Unruly is the leading programmatic platform for social video advertising, powered by UnrulyX, the first supply side platform (SSP) for mobile video to offer scaled delivery of native ad formats and guarantee the viewability of premium video impressions bought via RTB.

With 3 out of every 4 video views now taking place outside of YouTube, 84% of Ad Age 100 brands trust Unruly’s proprietary video stack to reach and engage custom audiences at speed and scale across the Open Web.

Differentiated by a unique data set comprising 1.3 trillion video views and analyzing 116 million shares per day, Unruly algorithmically predicts content shareability and programmatically targets custom audiences across video, mobile and native ad formats, with guaranteed viewability and brand safety across mobile, tablet and desktop devices to an audience of 1.27 billion monthly unique users.

Unruly employs 200 people across 15 offices in 11 countries, with regional HQs in London, New York and Singapore.

As well as a number of accolades recognizing its technical innovation and product quality (Digiday, Sunday Times, Braves),  the company has won ‘Best Companies to Work For’ (Sunday Times), ‘Best Digital Ad Ops Team’ (AOP) and has been named as the UK’s #2 Fastest Growing Tech Company (Deloitte). Its super power is unique data. Its secret weapon is passionate people on a mission to #DeliverWow.

[1] Nielsen, “Free to Move Between Screens: The Cross-Platform Report”, March 2013