How to Improve Your Ad Viewing Completion Rate

Ramesh Sitaraman, a computer scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, predicts that 86 percent of consumer Web traffic will soon consist of online video. Considering the popularity of video usage, as well as the increasingly improving video streaming capabilities of mobile devices and wireless networks, is it prudent for marketers to invest on video ads? And if so, what can you do as a marketer to make people watch your video ads?


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In October 2013, a presentation at the ACM Internet Measurement Conference in Barcelona, Spain detailed the results of a landmark large-scale study of 65 million unique Web viewing data that involved over 257 million ads in 367 million videos made by more than 3,000 different publishers. The goal of the study was to uncover the factors that would make people watch video ads to completion or to abandon them. Here are its useful findings.

Place Your Ad in the Middle of the Video Content

It was discovered that the highest ad viewing completion rate (97 percent) occurred when the ad was inserted in the middle of the video content. Ad viewing completion rate was 74 percent for ads introduced at the beginning of the video, while a dismal 45 percent completion rate was achieved when ads were delivered at the end of the video.

The reason for this consumer viewing behavior is not clear, and more research is needed to explain this. When the viewer reaches the middle of the video content, he may be strongly engaged with what he is watching and would therefore tolerate an embedded ad in order to get to the rest of the content. It is also possible that he watches the ad to completion because it is short and is fast loading. In the study, fifteen-second ads that were inserted mid-length of the video content resulted in a higher viewing completion rate.

Insert Your Ad in Long Video Content

People are more likely to finish watching advertisements when they are embedded in a movie or a television show episode. Short video content such as a news clip does not get a decent ad viewing completion rate. According to the study, this is attributed to people assigning more value to long video content than a short one. So, they are more likely to consider sitting through an ad insert as “more worthwhile.”

Don’t Believe the Hype about Relaxed Online Viewing Times

The large-scale and global sampling that was used in the study does not support the common belief among online marketers that people are more likely to finish viewing video ads during relaxed times, such as weekends or evenings. There was no significant link between time period and ad viewing completion rate.

Improve Your Overall Site Engagement

This is the key to making people put up with your ads. In all of the ad categories, repeat visitors have considerably higher ad viewing completion rates compared to one-time site visitors. In short, your website’s loyal following are more willing to watch your ads to completion. The challenge is that you can’t earn repeat visitors overnight. They are amassed by consistently providing helpful, unique, and engaging Web content.

Your Pre-Rolling Ads Are Better Tolerated than Slow-Loading Ones

If you should inconvenience your online visitors by forcing video ads on them, then you are better off with pre-rolling ads than slow-loading ones. Pre-rolled ads are those that are presented before the actual video content begins. It was found that people abandoned video ads over three times faster when the ads were slow to load than when they were pre-rolled before the video content. At the video ad’s ten-second mark, over 45 percent of the viewers gave up waiting for a slow-loading video to complete. As for pre-rolled ads, 13 percent of the viewers stopped watching the ad at the ten-second mark.

In the study, the success of a video ad is equated with its viewing completion rate–an assumption that may not always hold true, because brand recognition and awareness can still be affected once a consumer is exposed to the ad. Its findings remain valuable, however, and can definitely help online marketers, most especially when deciding on video ad placement and its optimal duration.

this article is written By K. Ong

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