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FreeWheel: New research on short-form video advertising
15 August 2017 (Edited )
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Comcast affiliate video ad-management solution provider FreeWheel has published a report entitled The Short-Form Video Ad Experience: Engagement, Expectations & Impact.

Data came from a survey of 2964 consumers aged 18-49 who were shown 9 different combinations of video content/ad scenarios.

Survey data were augmented by measurements of subjects' perceptions and emotions obtained by Facial Action Coding System (FACS).

An assumption was made that more emotional responses are positively correlated with "brand favorability, increase in earned media, and ultimately, sales lift."

Some key findings:

  • Engagement (as measured by FACS) with ads increased as ad frequency decreased.
  • Ad engagement was higher when combined with content, and content engagement was higher when combined with ads.
  • The highest ad engagement occurred with lowest ad exposure (1 ad in 4 clips), and ad engagement was lowest in ad-only and 1:1 clip/ad ratio scenarios.
  • Subjects expected to see 3 ads for every 4 clips �" relatively high.
  • Expectations of ad frequency were relatively consistent across screens for 70% of subjects �" but 30% expected to see fewer ads on mobile devices.
  • Given a choice, 50% of subjects said they would prefer to see a longer ad at the start of the video and watch the rest ad-free, while the other 50% said they would prefer intermittent ads throughout the content.
  • With content as short as 1:22, only 3% of subjects found 30-second ads to impact brand attitude negatively vs. 15-second ads.

Conclusions drawn by the experimenters:

  • High consumer expectations of ad:content ratios gives publishers and advertisers flexibility in optimizing ad:content ratio.
  • But ad length still needs to be determined in the context of content length.
  • Because of 50-50 preference split between long ads before content and intermittent ads throughout content, publishers need to find a way to let users choose how they want to receive ads.

So, actionable items:

  • Lower ad:content ratios result in more engagement with the ads. So don't stuff content with ads - need to find a sweet-spot ratio.
  • If finding that presence of ads increases engagement with content is valid, we should never publish ad-free content (thus failing to capitalize on an opportunity for brand lift, etc.).
  • With content as short as a minute and a half, use 30-second ads (vice 15-second) since this only bothers 3% of consumers.
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