In the advertising industry we often get stuck in our own world of platforms, data, GRPs, etc., and lose sight of how real humans are consuming media and reacting to advertising formats. To help ground us on the current state of video advertising, we compiled industrywide research, demographic studies and actual footage of real humans' video consumption behaviors. What it revealed is a massive growing population of people who can no longer be interrupted with TV or pre-roll ads as well as emerging ad formats that are effective at reaching these "uninterruptibles."
Think about the last time you watched live TV. What did you and anyone else watching with you (regardless of age) do once it cut to commercial? Chances are you all picked up your phones instead of watching the ads. Studies show around 87 percent of consumers use a second screen while watching TV (Accenture) and with the growth of DVRs, 86 percent of people always fast-forward through ads (YouGov for Deloitte).
The same behaviors are prevalent online as well. When that pre-roll starts, consumers are doing whatever they can to not pay attention. About 90 percent of consumers now skip pre-roll by changing tabs, not paying attention or hitting that "skip ad" button when possible (ORC International).
If you don't believe the research on "real human" behaviors, then you at least have to believe the memes. Skipping pre-roll has become such a part of culture that it is now the punchline in the types of memes that define our culture. Scroll through Instagram or Reddit, and you'll see hundreds of memes like these.
This does not mean TV or pre-roll ads are ineffective. If you can interrupt your audience and get them to sit through your ad, of course it is effective. What you cannot deny is we have a massive and growing population of consumers who cannot be interrupted.
Therefore, if your video media mix only consists of TV and pre-roll ads, then you are significantly diminishing your ability to reach these second-screeners, pre-roll ignorers, "skip ad" enthusiasts and DVR skippers. What you are left with is an old-school TV audience because, according to Nielsen, the only age group watching more TV is adults 65 and older. Yet, studies show even the majority of TV viewers 55 and older use a second screen. So TV and pre-roll advertisers hardly have the undivided attention of any age group.
Meanwhile, nearly every day in the trades you see headlines about the lengths brands are going to in adapting to the "modern consumer," which they usually just label as "millennials." For example, CPG brands are creating more "ethical" snacks, or car companies are creating more high-tech cars, or retailers and hotels are redesigning their locations to fit with the expectations of this modern consumer.
However, a huge disconnect exists between how much time and money we spend to adapt to this "modern consumer" and how we communicate with them. Especially considering around 74 percent of video budgets go toward interruptive TV and pre-roll formats that this "modern consumer" ignores and, in many cases, despises. (The exact spend by video ad format is not readily available, but the most conservative estimate from Zenith's March 2018 Ad Expenditure Forecast is 74 percent.)
The risk of interruptive ads on mobile
At minimum, advertisers risk being ignored through interruptive video ads, but they also risk alienating audiences who hate being interrupted, especially on mobile. EMarketer reported that in 2018 78 percent of video views will occur on mobile phones and mobile video ad spend will surpass desktop.
But what do real humans think of pre-roll on mobile? Millward Brown's Global Ad Receptivity Study shows pre-roll on smartphones has the most negative consumer reaction versus TV, desktop or tablet.
If people hate pre-roll, especially on mobile, and 91 percent of millennials consume and discover content in some form of publisher or social content feed, then the only video ad formats that make sense are ones that earn attention instead of forcing it and fit natively with the user experience. These formats are now labeled "native outstream." The following chart explains how native outstream fits into the digital video marketplace.