Q2 Digital Video Trends Show Long-Form Viewing Increasingly Mirroring Linear TV

August 15, 2014

FreeWheel-Video-Ad-Views-by-Content-Length-Device-in-Q2-Aug2014Several trends in the video advertising industry indicate that digital video long-form viewing is increasingly mirroring the TV experience, per FreeWheel’s Q2 Video Monetization report [download page]. From the growth in long-form content viewing to the length of mid-roll ad breaks, the typical duration of ads, and the verticals that are advertising, the report’s authors push the point that for viewers “TV is TV, regardless of the screen.”

It’s an important point with implications for the future of TV, as discussed in MarketingCharts’ new Debrief [download page] on the TV industry. The report indicates that consumers are becoming increasingly device- and source-agnostic for their video entertainment, as the lines blur between digital and traditional TV. Even so, in placing the current state of TV in the context of this evolution, the Debrief delves into traditional TV viewing trends to show that consumption remains strong and that legacy TV – for the time being – continues to hold the keys to quality content.

The TV – as a form factor – is expected to remain a significant screen, as in-home devices (such as TVs, tablets, and OTT devices) are used more for longer-form viewing, while smartphones are generally used for snackable content. Indeed, as the FreeWheel report indicates, 70% of ad views on OTT devices came from long-form and live content during Q2, as did 63% of ad views on tablets. By comparison, only 35% of ad views on smartphones came from content at least 20 minutes in length.

Meanwhile, as the Debrief notes, consumers’ increasing desire to watch on their own schedule suggests that appointment viewing is tending to center more on live events, such as sports. The FreeWheel report indicates that this extends to digital viewing also, as 18.3% share of all ad views for programmers were for live viewing (up from 8.1% share a year earlier), with live viewing predominately the realm of sports, to the tune of 81% share. [FreeWheel splits its report up into “Programmers” and “Digital Pure-Play Publishers” with the former including programmers and multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) who generate the majority of their ad revenues from linear TV services.]

In other signs of digital video mirroring the TV experience, FreeWheel finds that:

  • Two-thirds of all ad views on long-form content were 30 seconds in duration, the typical length for TV ads;
  • During Q2, publishers tested heavier ad loads more in tune with what viewers see on TV, as mid-roll breaks during long-form content averaged 98 seconds in length (and 3.7 ads), compared to 68 seconds (and 2.7 ads) a year earlier; and
  • The composition of advertiser categories on digital video more closely resembled those on TV than on digital advertising as a whole, with the same top 5 across each (CPG, financial services, retail, telecom/computing, and auto/energy/manufacturing).

Meanwhile, FreeWheel also notes the increasing growth of authenticated viewing (defined as “viewing that occurs after viewers enter their MVPD subscription credentials”). In fact, for programmers, authenticated ad views on long-form and live content increased to 38% share of ad views on such content, up from just 8% share a year earlier.

Finally, in a more in-depth look at OTT viewing, FreeWheel reports that two-thirds of OTT ad views came from streaming set-bop boxes and “dongles.” At 34% share, Roku was the leader, ahead of Apple TV (26%) and Chromecast (7%).

About the Data: The data set used for the FreeWheel report is one of the largest available on the usage and monetization of professional, rights managed video content, and is comprised of over 50 billion video views in the first half of 2014.

Data regarding the top advertising verticals on TV is sourced from Kantar Media network TV ad spend by vertical, January-May 2014.

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