The Short of It: Video Clips, Ad Experiences & Engagement

James Rothwell VP, Marketing, Comcast Advertising

When the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video (FWC) surveyed 243 brand and ad agency executives in late 2016, the advertising experience was rated as the most significant challenge facing the video industry today. As anyone who is part of the advertising value chain will tell you, there are many variables and responsible parties involved in ensuring the right ad shows up in the right place at the right time, and in the right way.

Fragmentation of viewing options for consumers has compounded the challenge, but it’s not just the screen that impacts the type of ad experience. The content type, whether long-form full episodes (traditionally 30-60 minutes) or short-form clips (less than five minutes), create different viewer expectations of appropriate lengths and frequency of ads supporting that premium content.

As part of a series of research into the ad experience, the FWC sought to study the behavior of almost 3,000 viewers in order to understand how engagement and emotional reactions are impacted by different content and ad scenarios. Download the study now.

Surveying those consumers after the viewing experience of premium video clips and advertising also created a better understanding of expectations of the ad experience, which in turn enables both publishers and advertisers to work together on driving better and more engaging advertising.

The research was done in partnership with RealEyes, a leading emotion measurement platform, and almost 3,000 adults (aged 18-49) were exposed to a set of nine different scenarios of content and ads, measuring different reactions through technology.

The results of this unique study were very interesting. Some key takeaways:

  • Engagement levels on advertising increase as ad loads decrease.
  • A halo effect occurs for engagement levels when both content and ads are combined.

  • Viewers expect to see a relatively high ad load while viewing clips: on average, viewers expected three ads for four clips.
  • Choice is important: half of users would choose a longer ad at the start of their viewing to watch ad-free afterward.
  • Expectations of ad loads across screens are consistent: a majority of viewers would expect the same on OTT as desktop but 3 in 10 expect fewer ads on a mobile device.

From a publisher’s perspective, it is clear that finding the right balance of content and ads is a vital part of the overall viewing experience, and it has implications for engagement levels both within their platform, and with the advertising that supports the content.

From a marketer’s perspective, alignment with premium content and publishers who are continuing to refine the ad experience makes sense. Engagement levels tend to be high with compelling, sought-after content (no matter its length) and programmers and platforms who are creating more user-focused experiences will undoubtedly drive better business outcomes.

This is how premium video shines and differentiates itself from the less restrained world of digital.

To download a copy of the full set of results, click here.