Viamedia’s 2013 Holiday Advertising Study

Viamedia’s 2013
Holiday Advertising Study

Majority of Americans say TV holiday advertising impacts their shopping while admitting they would like to see Scrooge-like themes in ads

LEXINGTON, KY, November 26, 2013– Viamedia, the cable industry’s leading independent cable rep firm and provider of online advertising services, today announced its 2013 Holiday Advertising  Study which determined how advertisements on cable TV networks impacts the 89% of Americans who watch cable TV programming.  The study examined the positive qualities that make holiday advertisements most memorable and finally asked what “Scrooge-like” themes, if any, Americans would like to see in holiday advertisements.

A majority of Americans (54%) admitted advertisements on cable TV networks (e.g., ESPN, Lifetime, TNT, A&E, History Channel, CNN) impact their holiday shopping.  The demographics most affected were students (75%), men 18 – 34 (66%) and women (69%) 18 – 34.  The reasons included:   

  • 38% – informs me about sales (which was particularly important to 60% students)
  • 25% – gives me ideas on what to buy for hard to buy people
  • 21% – prompts me to consider shopping at that store or buy products at that store
  • 19% – makes me realize how many shopping days are left
  • 15% – makes me realize what’s hot
  • 8% – makes me shop for myself

An overwhelming majority of Americans (72%) agreed positive qualities make a holiday advertisement on cable TV networks most memorable – especially 82% of households with children.  However when it came to what exactly Americans thought of as memorable, Americans were hard-pressed to agree with the number one choice being emotional appeal – with just 18% of Americans naming that trait.  Emotional appeal was followed by portrayal of the family with 14%.  Only 13% of households with children said portrayal of family was important.  That was followed by holiday tie-in (14%), feature people like me (8%), play on words like “happy Holidays” (6%) and inclusion of veterans (5%).

A majority Americans (59%) admitted they wanted to see “Scrooge-like” themes in holiday advertisements on cable TV networks – which was especially popular with men (77%) 18 – 34 and women (75%) 18 – 34.  Americans ranked their favorite Scroogey scenarios – from naughty kids getting coal to ditching the in-laws: 

  • 27% – How do you react to a present you don’t like
  • 25% – the best way to return a bad gift
  • 21% – the right way to re-gift
  • 19% – Naughty kids getting coal for Christmas (24% of households with children said yes – 17% said no)
  • 16% – how to shop for people I don’t like
  • 14% – what to do with carolers who can’t sing
  • 14% – how to shop for myself guilt free
  • 13% – how kids can be annoying
  • 12% – how to ditch the in-laws

“Viamedia’s 2013 Holiday Cable Advertising Study proves how cable TV advertisements play a key role in how we celebrate the season,” said Becky Jones, Vice President Marketing & Research at Viamedia.  “Cable TV advertising impacts a majority of Americans – giving gifts ideas and even alerting them to how many shopping days we have left.  It’s a good feeling to know that consumers find holiday ads on cable TV to be a meaningful part of their holiday experience.  And, just like with the cable TV programs themselves, their opinions of what makes a commercial’s magic ingredient are as broad as their own imaginations.”

We found it surprising that while Americans can’t agree on the magic ingredient that makes a good holiday commercial, they can agree on wanting to see Scrooge-like themes in advertisements.”

About Viamedia

Headquartered in Lexington, KY, Viamedia is a leading provider of outsourced local advertising sales services and provider of online advertising services. The company specializes in selling DMA-based advertising to local, regional and national advertisers on behalf of U.S. cable and telecommunications service providers, utility companies and municipalities. For more information on Viamedia,  You can find us on Facebook at or like us on Twitter @Viamedia_TV.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States between November 13th and 15th, 2013 among 2,051 adults (aged 18 and over) by Harris Interactive on behalf of Viamedia via its Quick Query omnibus product. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.