New research into online video ads shows that consumers want to investigate brands in their own time, and are more open to receiving ads around quality video content.
The results of a year-long study from Sky and the Internet Advertising Bureau – the trade body for digital advertising – reveal the true branding effectiveness of online video, showing how consumers prefer to ‘store’ advertising information, rather than clicking-through immediately.
The study, run by media research company Decipher, found that whilst 6% of people who recalled a video ad clicked to make an immediate purchase, around 54% of people chose to delay a purchase or investigate the brand in their own time, once again calling into question whether click-through rates are the best measure for online branding campaigns
The research, which featured 11 brands, 24 campaigns, 5 ad formats, 12 months of testing and almost 6,000 respondents is the most in-depth ‘live’ study dedicated to online video advertising effectiveness to date. It was designed to investigate the real impact of various formats across 6 websites with different types of content, including news, entertainment and sport.
Pre-roll video ads deliver highest recall levels
The research examined the recall levels of different online video ad executions and identified which are the most effective within branding campaigns. The top performing format was pre-roll video with a companion banner, which delivered the highest brand recall at 47% – the qualitative stage of the research indicated that this higher performance was linked to user anticipation, and therefore increased attention levels of the audience. This is compared to 44% who recalled the ad when only pre-roll was used, 43% with a branded video player, 37% for post-roll video ads and 36% recall with in-stream overlays.
Another key finding was how the user journey to the content had an impact on brand recall. Some 53% of respondents recalled the ad when directed there from a specific link, whilst 48% were able to recall the ad if they were actively seeking out specific content. For those users who were ‘just browsing’ the content the recall rate was 39%. The qualitative stage provided further insight into this behaviour and revealed that recommendations from friends or family creates an increased amount of trust and higher expectation in the content.
Location, mindset and ad recall
Brand recall was higher at work (44%) than at home (39%), suggesting that in terms of campaign type, brand-centric video ads may be more relevant during working hours. However the opposite was shown for click-through rates, which were higher when users were engaging with content from home. Respondents in the qualitative research also confirmed that they are more willing to alter their online journey when at home relaxing, therefore if you’re looking for ‘action’ as part of a direct response campaign the evening may be more a more appropriate time.
Advertising seen as ‘appropriate’ around quality content
The research showed that quality content has an important effect on the performance of online video advertising. Users were 10% more likely to recall the ad if they enjoyed the content, therefore targeting higher quality content can increase brand awareness
The study also found that viewers understand the trade-off between free content and advertising – but find ads more appropriate when the content is of a better quality. When asked how appropriate the various ad formats were, of those who recalled the ads, 47% stated they were around entertainment clips, 46% around TV programmes, but only 17% said the same about advertising around content posted by others.
Dwell-time increases call to action
However, for direct response campaigns, formats that provide dwell time, such as branded video players were found most likely to deliver a higher call to action response, with a 1.23% click-through rate average across all campaigns. Second were pre-roll video ads combined with companion banners with a 0.89% click-through rate, followed by post-roll at 0.83%, and pre-roll on its own at 0.77%. Overlays were found to be the least effective online video ad format with a click-through rate of just 0.16% with respondents feeling less positive towards formats that appear to get in the way of the task at hand.
Sorcha Proctor, senior insights manager at the Internet Advertising Bureau said: “The last few years have seen an unprecedented amount of excitement throughout the industry of the rise of online video advertising and what it can do for brands. Our job, in partnership with Sky, was to equip advertisers and agencies with the knowledge and insights to understand which formats are right for them, depending on the direct response or branding nature of their campaigns.
This research project is one of the IAB’s biggest to date, and provides an invaluable, holistic view of the role of online video advertising, showing how consumers understand the trade-off between ads and good quality content.”
Rebecca McQuade, online research manager for Sky said: “This research provides genuine insight into the effectiveness of the different formats. Working with Decipher and the IAB we’ve delivered an actionable piece of research for the entire industry which shows how online video can deliver brand engagement for advertisers. The study has run for the past year and is part of our ongoing commitment to understand consumers as they engage with online video. This in turn helps to inform our clients’ planning decisions.”
Decipher’s Director of Research, Hamish McPharlin, said: “This study has really demonstrated to us that online viewing behaviour is every bit as deep and granular as TV viewing. The context in which viewers encounter your ad is equally significant, whether by day part, viewing environment, or site context, and the impact goes far beyond the click-through. It’s a fantastic call-to-arms for careful and intelligent branding online”.
The methodology comprised of an online survey conducted on live campaigns that was split into 2 parts. The first being asked post exposure to quantify the brand uplift and the second 3 days later to measure call to action. The total sample was almost 6000 respondents. Following this there were 4 focus groups to investigate the quantitative findings in more depth.