NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The dominant form of online video advertising -- the pre-roll ad -- is still an unwelcome sight for a broad cross-section of consumers, according to online analytics firm TubeMogul.
Nearly 16% of viewers click away from a pre-roll video ad rather than watch it to get to video content, according to new research. For newspapers and magazine sites, where interruptive advertising isn't the norm and video is a secondary storytelling device, the trend is worse: nearly 25%.
That's consistent with prevailing trends and a sign that the fundamental video ad unit online is still struggling with how to persuade and engage without turning viewers off. Since visitors can't generally skip a pre-roll ad online, it means a significant percentage would rather not watch the content than have to sit through a 15- or 30-second ad.
"Consumers have so many choices that 16% are going to leave your content just because you put an ad in front of it," said Brett Wilson, CEO of the video analytics firm. "That's a big paradigm shift -- people don't have to watch your ad."
On the bright side, as more ad dollars pour into online video and advertisers repurpose their TV spots for the medium, it doesn't appear things are getting much worse. In November, YouTube said "completion" rates for its newly-introduced pre-roll ads were about 85%, or roughly the same as TubeMogul's figure. Notably, YouTube gives people the option to skip a pre-roll, while most publishers do not.
More consumers click away
Indeed, TubeMogul's numbers could be seen as good news for the industry, which has struggled with completion rates in the past. Video ad network YuMe has, for example, shown declining completion rates for video ads over the course of 2009. In the third quarter, only 61% completed a 30-second video ad (compared to 65% in the first quarter), and 74% completed a 15-second ad (compared to 79% in the first quarter). YuMe's data came from 3 billion impressions across 500 web sites.
Back in August of 2008, Break Media said completion rates for 15-second pre-roll ads were 87% across 5.85 million impressions. That same month, video ad network Tremor Media reported an 80% completion rate across 100 million impressions, including both 15- and 30-second spots.
Pre-roll ads dominate largely because it's the only way to effectively monetize short clips, and marketers have plenty of TV creative that can be easily repurposed for online ads. But for consumers, they're the video version of dreaded pop-up ads.
TubeMogul's sample was gathered over 48 hours and included nearly 1.8 million impressions across networks like Tremor, BBE, Google and AdTech. It included high-quality short-form content on top TV, magazine and newspaper sites. Overall, 15.89% clicked away rather than watch an ad. Naturally, 15-second ads performed better: 9.3% stopped watching compared to 16.5% for 30-second ads.
But it also shows that consumers remain ambivalent about the value-exchange entailed in watching a lengthy pre-roll for video content that might not be much longer. Nothing particularly new about that revelation, but what is new is that viewers seem be a lot pickier about video on newspaper and magazine websites.
That may be due to the type of video on newspaper and magazine sites -- more talking heads, perhaps -- and that the information is more easily consumed in printed form, where there is no advertisement to wait through.