[New Research] Engaging The Viewer: Designing A Winning Ad Experience

David Dworin VP, Advisory Services

Premium video consumers have more options than ever before. They decide what programming to watch – where, when, and how to watch it – and even how to pay for it. Increasingly, ad-supported video competes with ad-free subscription services like Netflix and Amazon in addition to ad-free networks like HBO and Showtime.

With this in mind, premium video publishers and advertisers must be careful to deploy advertising strategies that do not compromise the viewer experience. Annoy your audience, or impede on what they deem to be an acceptable viewing experience, and you risk losing them to alternative services or forms of entertainment—possibly for good.

That said, most consumers recognize the role advertising plays in allowing them to watch nominally free content. They realize it is a value exchange. In other words, to gain access to content, viewers know they must offer up something in exchange. That “something” could be money, in the form of a subscription fee, or their time and attention through their willingness to view commercial messages. Therefore, it is the responsibility of publishers and advertisers to maintain the quality of ad-supported viewing experiences to ensure consumers continue to find the exchange valuable.

Delivering the Optimal Ad Experience is a Tricky Balancing Act

Advertising needs to efficiently deliver on the marketer’s objectives and allow publishers to fund content acquisition and distribution, all while keeping viewers engaged with the overall experience. Balancing these factors involves tradeoffs, and creating the winning solution is an exercise in experimentation and tailoring.

But here is some good news: publishers don’t have to make assumptions about what strategies work best for which audiences. To help publishers craft better ad experiences for viewers and create more engaging environments for advertisers, we aggregated all of our user experience research, looking at dozens of unique studies and ad models. We also explored viewer behavior from FreeWheel’s database of premium video ad views, one of the most comprehensive available on the usage and monetization of professional, rights-managed video content.

Our research revealed five factors critical to designing an effective ad experience: choreography, frequency, relevancy, control, and execution. Getting these factors right is critical to defending and growing the value of the advertising ecosystem.

In this report you will discover what factors have the largest impact on viewer experience, such as:

  • How reducing ad loads and shortening ad lengths affects viewer engagement
  • Under what circumstances ad repetition hurts engagement
  • When more relevant ads perform better
  • What strategies give customers a sense of agency when it comes to their video ad experience
  • Which elements of the total viewing experience to prioritize when serving your audience

Creating a winning video ad experience is one of the most pressing and exciting challenges facing publishers today. However, doing so requires careful consideration of multiple stakeholder interests and points-of-view, and there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits-all solution.  Download our comprehensive report to see how you can balance your business objectives with viewer needs and design a winning ad experience.

I’d like to personally thank the entire Advisory Services team for their dedication to this research and in particular the authors of this report: Ying Wang, Dasha Pryamitsyna, and Steven Rosenblum.

FreeWheel’s Advisory Services team helps businesses navigate complexity and adapt to change in the rapidly evolving premium video industry. We partner with many of the industry’s leading publishers to uncover opportunities for growth, execute new strategies, and evolve their organizations through actionable consulting engagements, proprietary research, and business intelligence. Our unparalleled dataset of over 200 billion annual worldwide video views, gathered from census-level ad monetization and viewership across all digital devices, informs our industry-leading quarterly Video Monetization Report and semi-annual Signature Insights studies.