Data-Backed Insights to Increase Video Ad Effectiveness

October 17, 2016

yume-video-ad-persuasion-metrics-by-time-of-day-oct2016Digital video viewing may peak in the evening, but consumer receptiveness and response to ads are at their highest point in the morning hours, according to a recently-released study from YuMe. Based on consumer surveys and digital diaries measuring consumption habits, ad receptivity and branding effectiveness, the YuMe study offers up some insights designed to optimize video ad effectiveness.


The study shows that video viewing climbs throughout the day, reaching its peak in the primetime hours. By contrast, ad receptivity spikes in the early morning, and then engages in a gradual yet bumpy decline throughout the day. Unaided ad recall and attention to ads were both highest in the 3AM-12PM time period, as were lifts in overall favorability, recommendation intent and purchase intent post-ad viewing. As the analysts posit, “early mornings could be worth a slightly higher premium due to higher levels of receptivity to advertising.”

What’s interesting to see is the consistency in video viewing patterns across age groups. While there is some disparity during the evening hours (Millennials peak in the early and late evening, while Gen Xers and Boomers peak during primetime), the general cadence of viewing is similar across age groups. The same is true for ad receptivity: while it isn’t equal across age groups (it’s generally highest among Gen Xers), the time-based analysis of receptivity follows a similar pattern across the age cohorts.

Moreover, these time-based strategies don’t seem to need a gender component, as both men and women show very similar patterns of video viewing and ad receptivity throughout the day.

Consumption Differences Across Devices

It has long been established that smartphone and tablet use vary during the day, and the YuMe study likewise finds different dynamics in video consumption habits on these devices.

For smartphones, YuMe observed peaks at breakfast, lunch and dinner times – aligning with an old study that found mobile email clicks to be highest during meal times. Tablet video viewing, by contrast, builds gradually (if not bumpily) during the day, reaching its peak in the evening hours of 8-11PM. Once again, these patterns hold true across Millennials (18-34), Gen Xers (35-49), and Boomers (50+), with smartphone viewing heavier than tablet viewing in the morning, and video viewing heavier in the evening.

As for non-mobile devices, they more closely resemble the tablet than smartphone viewing pattern. Connected TV, desktop and laptop video viewing are quite closely aligned during the day, though desktop and laptop viewing peaks a little earlier in the evening (7PM) than connected TV viewing (8PM). Connected TV viewing is highest in the evening for all age groups, though there are some slight discrepancies in desktop and laptop viewing across these brackets.

One thing to be aware of: there is a noticeable dip in video viewing at 2PM for each of the devices measured.

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Ad Receptivity by Device

The YuMe survey shows that there are some keen distinctions in ad receptivity across devices. Interestingly, while tablet video viewing spikes in the evening hours, ad receptivity shows its only strong peak in the morning, at 5AM. This seems to support a continuing though unstated pattern in the report – that ad receptivity appears to often be higher at times when video consumption is lighter.

In fact, video ad receptivity is also highest on smartphones and laptops at the 5AM hour, while peaking at 4AM for desktops and at 6AM for laptops.

Intriguingly, ad receptivity appears to be higher for devices with smaller screens. Smartphones boasted the highest ad receptivity on average of any device (close to 50 on a 100-point scale), followed in descending order by tablets, laptops, desktops, and connected TVs.

Unlike video viewing patterns, there are some variances in device-based ad receptivity among age groups, as detailed below:

  • Ad receptivity on smartphones is highest in the morning and evening hours for Millennials, but peaks in the morning for Gen Xers and in the night time for Boomers;
  • Ad receptivity on tablets is highest in the afternoon for Millennials and Boomers, but is lowest in the afternoon for Gen Xers;
  • Ad receptivity on laptops and desktops is highest in the afternoon for Millennials, but Gen Xers and Boomers are most receptive in the morning;
  • Ad receptivity on connected TVs is highest in the morning for Millennials and Gen Xers and highest in the afternoon for Boomers.

Which Genres?

Ad receptivity also varies by content type and genre. Millennials are more receptive to ads in full movies than to those in short clips on the internet or in TV episodes. (Factors for driving increased engagement with ads in online TV can be found here.) Indeed, Millennials are more receptive than the other age cohorts to ads in full movies.

Gen Xers are likewise most receptive to ads in full movies, though they demonstrate less variance in their receptivity across content genres. Gen Xers are actually the cohort most receptive to ads in short internet clips and in TV episodes, edging Millennials in both cases.

Boomers, meanwhile, seem most receptive to ads viewed during TV episodes.

Looking at various genres, YuMe points out that while video viewing volume is low in “practical content genres” such as automotive, business, technology and cooking, these genres have the highest levels of ad receptivity. Among these genres, Gen Xers top Millennials in ad receptivity in automotive and cooking content, while Millennials show slightly higher levels of receptivity to ads in business and technology content.

Boomers show lower levels of receptivity across all content genres, but are most receptive to ads in cooking, business and new content.

Finally, ad persuasion metrics (favorability, recommendation and purchase intent) are considerably higher when viewers enjoy the content than when they are neutral about it or don’t enjoy it.

Ad Length

Not too surprisingly, respondents to the YuMe survey prefer short ads in shorter videos: brand favorability tended to be highest for short ads.

Indeed, consumer ratings of the perceived value of advertising in exchange for free content were mostly on par regardless of the ad length or the content length.

That said, consumers do show distinct preferences in how they would want to consume 30 seconds worth of ads. Their top preference is for a single 30-second ad, with the next-best option being 2 15-second ads. There is considerably less preference for combining multiple ads of similar or different lengths; the least preferred by a long shot is six 5-second ads. In other words, given the same ad length, consumers want to see the fewest ads possible. (This is consistent with other research on this topic.)


This seems to be the result of viewers wanting to avoid interruptions. Survey respondents noted that they don’t want interruptions in the middle of content, and that they would rather watch one longer ad rather than multiple shorter ones.

Faced with a choice between ad length, skippability and choice, respondents prioritized the ability to skip ads, followed by the length of the ads, and then the choice of which ads to watch.

The full study – which contains further recommendations based on video ad goals as well as the full study methodology – can be downloaded here.

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