Online Video Viewers Have More Patience For Ads Than Slow Loads

October 28, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Video

Akamai-Online-Video-Ad-Effectiveness-Findings-Oct2013A new study [pdf] from Akamai analyzes the effectiveness of online video ads, arriving at some intriguing – and some not so earth-shattering – conclusions. Among the more interesting results: viewers who have to wait at least 10 seconds to watch a video are 3 times more likely to abandon the video if their wait is due to slow load speeds than if its due to a pre-roll ad. Specifically, 45.8% abandon a slow-loading video at the 10-second mark, compared to 13.4% abandoning a pre-roll at that point. Clearly there’s a psychological element at play, as viewers have a defined end to their waiting time with the pre-roll ad.

Other results indicate viewers will accept ads in exchange for valued content. That’s because the study finds that the position of the ad within the video has the largest impact on its completion rate, with mid-rolls 18.1% more likely to be completed than the same ad as a pre-roll, and pre-rolls 14.3% more likely to be completed than the same ad served up after a video has finished. That’s according to a controlled experiment conducted by the researchers, but is also backed up by data traced from Akamai’s video delivery network consisting of about 65 million unique viewers watching 362 million videos and 257 million ads from 33 video providers around the world. That data showed that mid-rolls had the highest completion rate – of 97% – followed by pre-rolls (74%) and post-rolls (45%).

The result is somewhat intuitive: already invested in a video, viewers are loathe to leave it due to an ad, preferring to sit it out in exchange for watching the rest of the content. It’s also fairly unsurprising: numerous pieces of research (such as this and this) have shown mid-rolls to have the highest completion rates.

Nevertheless, that same value exchange applies to the type of content in question, too. Viewers were much more likely to complete ads played within long-form video (87%) than short-form video (67%). That result was supported by the researchers’ controlled experiments, which found a (relatively smaller) 4.2% higher inclination for a viewer to complete an ad within a long-form video.

Other findings from the study:

  • The Akamai data shows that 30-second ads (90%) had the highest completion rates, followed by 15- (84%) and 20-second (60%) ads. But, the controlled experiment found instead that longer ads were less likely to be completed. Perhaps positioning played a role.
  • There is no evidence to support the perception that viewers are more likely to complete ads during the evening or on weekends when they are supposedly more relaxed.
  • Loyal site visitors make better ad consumers. Repeat visitors to a video provider’s site had an ad completion rate of 84.9%, compared to 78% for one-time visitors.
  • Roughly one-third of viewers who abandon an ad do so during its first quarter, while about two-thirds do so at the half-way point.
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