Analysis for 'Panache'

  • MTV Unveils Research on Short-Form Video Advertising

    MTV Networks released some interesting research yesterday on the optimal way to present advertising in short-form online video. Its "Project Inform" looked at how multiple ad presentations from 3 blue chip advertisers performed and were liked by users across 50 million video streams on MTV.com, ComedyCentral.com, VH1.com, NickJr.com and CMT.com. The research was conducted in partnership with InsightExpress using Panache's video ad platform.

    The research found that the most effective ad product was a "lower 1/3 product suite" consisting of a 5 second pre-roll combined with a 10 second lower 1/3 semi-transparent Flash overlay that began about 10 seconds after the video itself began. Effectiveness was defined as brand lift, measured by metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent. The research also measured consumers' likeability of each ad product. This finding provides support for why overlays seem to keep popping up; for example I now see overlays on most of the video clips I watch on YouTube.

    In second place was a conventional 30 second pre-roll which did well on both effectiveness and consumer likeability. That surprises me somewhat because I've believed for a while that 30 seconds is way too long for an ad where the content itself may only be 1-3 minutes in length. Granted it's a subjective judgment, but my personal experience has been that 30 seconds feels like an eternity when I know the content I'm accessing is going to be pretty brief. In fact I've noticed a clear trend toward 15 second pre-rolls accompanying short video clips, which I assumed suggested content providers had thankfully come to a similar conclusion.

    In third place in the MTV research was a "sideloader product suite", which included a 5 second pre-roll with a 10 second custom unit that slides out of the right side of the video window 10 seconds after the video itself began (so it sounds like the lower 1/3 product suite except the overlay is on the right instead of the bottom). I've never seen a unit like this, but to the extent that it may block valuable content in the right side of the window I could see users feeling it was intrusive.

    There's lots of research underway about different ad formats' effectiveness, and the MTV research adds to the industry's collective knowledge about best practices. There's still a ways to go though as industry participants launch and test new types of ad formats in search of the ultimate ad presentation.

    What do you think? Post a comment now.

     
  • Pre-Roll Video Advertising Gets a Boost from 3 Research Studies

    Pre-roll video ads' effectiveness and user acceptability is getting a boost from 3 different research studies this week. Results were released by Break/Panache and Tremor Media and by Jupiter Research, which focused on the European market. Taken together, they are an encouraging sign for the many broadband video providers who have chosen ad-supported over paid as their business model of choice.

    A key highlight of all three reports concerns user acceptance and engagement with pre-roll ads. This format, whether 15 or 30 seconds, has accounted for the bulk of video ad revenues to date, and yet has been a key source of tension in the industry. Advertisers like pre-rolls because they feel like the well-understood TV model and in fact, where off-the-shelf TV ads are often just re-used (for better or worse). The downside of the interruptive pre-roll approach is that previous research has shown users hate the format. Contributing to users' feelings was the fact that many content providers have been undisciplined about implementing frequency caps or any sort of targeting (I myself have seen far too many tampon ads!).

    Yet the Break/Panache results show that 78% of users viewed pre-roll ads for more than 15 seconds and the click-through rate averaged an impressive 10%. Similarly, the Tremor research showed completion rates for both 15 and 30 second ads of approximately 80%, a level it believes is reached because of its ad targeting and focusing on premium content only.

    Meanwhile the story was about the same in Europe. According to Jupiter's research (as reported by AdAge), audience drop-off upon the introduction of pre-rolls is under 5%. Jupiter also makes the important point that at least 10% of users drop off after 15 seconds even when there's no ad present, simply because they're in channel surfing mode. That means some percentage of abandonment is due simply to behavior, not a specific ad type. This makes sense when you think about it.

    I attribute much of these new positive results to users recalibrating their expectations about broadband video and the presence of ads. Here's what I think has happened:

    Since the Internet's introduction, there's been a sense among users that "content is free." And with the exception of annoying popup ads, I think many users have learned to look past unrelated banner ads on standard web pages so they've come to perceive their whole online experience as largely "ad-free" as well. (If you don't believe me, ask yourself when you last clicked on a banner ad unrelated to your work.)

    But as broadband video usage has grown, pre-roll ads that actually did interrupt the content experience felt jarring for many users. Naturally, when asked, users said, "ugh, we hate them." Fair enough. But consumers are smart, and have quickly recognized that, just like TV, to get high-quality video programming, someone has to pay, and since most users would rather that not be them, they've become more accepting of all ads, pre-rolls included. With premium sites employing some targeting now and becoming more judicious in their insertion practices (ABC.com and Hulu are great examples), users have become more accepting. Hence these positive research results.

    To the extent that pre-roll business practices continue to improve, I think research will continue to show positive results. Whether you personally love pre-rolls or hate them, I see them very much here to stay.

    What do you think? Post a comment.

     
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