May 18, 2017

  by Nigel Hollis

According to the findings of to the IAB Europe’s first Video Ad Formats survey the three most popular formats are in-stream pre-roll, out-stream in-article / in-page ads and the good, old fashioned 30 second spot redeployed from TV. Given we know that most people do not hang around to watch a video to completion it makes me wonder why the 30 second spot is still so popular.

The most obvious answer, of course, is that people want to have a digital component to a campaign but do not have the time, money or inclination to adapt the video to the digital environment. Commenting in a Warc news item covering the survey results, Mark Melling, Director of Video, EMEA at AOL, notes,

"It's not surprise that 30-second pre-roll ads are so high on advertisers' lists given it's the easiest way to put TV ads into digital. But we as an industry need to be careful of simply taking the 'easy route' at the expense of user experience."

Speaking as a user I do not think length is so much the issue as the intrusive and interruptive nature of some of the formats. However, until recently I would have echoed Melling’s comment but with regard to effectiveness. The work done in North America analyzing Kantar Millward Brown’s CrossMedia studies finds that digital videos do work better when they are adapted to the environment in which they are meant to run, as I reported in this post. However, it took a comment from my colleague Gonzalo Fuentes, Global CEO Media & Digital practice Kantar Insights, to make me realize that actually the biggest improvement in efficacy is actually from running the same ad on TV and digital.

Running the same video on TV and online garners a 48 percent increase in impact over running completely separate campaigns in the two media. Adapting the online video to be more suitable to the online environment only improves efficacy a further 19 percent. That additional 19 percent is good to have, but maybe the marketers who simply redeploy their TV spots are not giving up as much as I thought. The surround sound effect on average outweighs the effect of poorly adapted creative.

This said, not every ad transfers well from TV to a digital environment (about one in two do so). And if you really want your ad to work well on every viewing occasion and not depend on watching the video to the end (about 1 in 3 in ads we have tested) you really need to put some thought into how to capture attention quickly and deliver a branded impression within ten seconds or so. Not easy but it can be done. Ads like Skittle’s “The Portrait” manage to do so and then, of course, you could try to beat the skip entirely like Old Spice’s “Sweat”. Overall I suspect we have a long way to go before we really figure out the most effective formats, particularly when it comes to mobile.

So why do you think the 30 second spot is so popular on desktops and mobile even though it is hit and miss in terms of effectiveness?

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