More information from the FreeWheel Q3 2013 Video Monetization Report shows that video ad viewing is continuing its healthy double-digit growth. While video views dropped slightly in the third quarter of this year, video ads still managed to claw some ground from the previous quarter. Remember, this report is based around Programmers or multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) and Digital Pure-Plays. MVPDs are mostly linear TV revenue driven but offer some IP-based options as well (broadcast networks, cable companies). Digital Pure-Plays are mostly IP-based revenue driven, aggregate content of others and are now starting to make their own (think Netflix, Amazon, etc). The data is for rights-managed, professionally made (not user-generated), aggregate monetization from FreeWheel customers which include FOX, Sky, NBCU, Viacom, Dish, DirecTV
Video views did climb 20% since Q3 2012, so it's not like that is stagnant, it just lost a bit of ground Q3 vs Q2 this year. Video ad loads are clearly on the rise since video ad viewing has outpaced video viewing by 11%, but without the hard numbers we can't see exactly what the change is here in terms of ads per video. Additionally, we don't know what constitutes a view for the report.
Who has shown the ads is fairly steady with less MVPD ads this year over last. Seems that the Digital Pure-Plays are trying to recoup more of the licensing costs as they have a larger percentage now.
Ad Loads Rise, Completion Rates Steady
So even though ad views saw a 31% increase over the past year, it seems that the completion rate of those ads hasn't gone up, but it was already incredibly high at around 90%. The ad load has increased from 9.1 to 11.6, 29% growth in that area. The high completion rate is most likely due to the ads being embedded in the content and not being able to be fast forwarded over, not through any higher reception by the online viewers I'm sure.
Of course, these types of content publishers want TV-level ad loads, because it's mostly TV content. I don't know that it's going to go over so well with the Millennials who don't use TVs all that much and are used to lower ad loads online. This could be a point where the industry pushes too far and ends up losing out again, sort of like the cable companies with their subscriber losses over the past few quarters. Too expensive, too much channel bloat, too many restrictions = less subscribers. Online it might simply be too many ads (even in line with linear TV) = less viewers eventually. It could even tip more users over to piracy meaning the content publishers would be making zero on those views. Best to err on the side of caution, but somehow, I don't see them thinking that way.
Short Form Used to Maximize Monetization?
The report looks a lot at short form content. This would include all of those show clips and highlight reels that can be found online, usually with ads on them. So it's sort of like watching a pre-roll ad, to then watch an ad about the show you want to watch. Granted, the video is actual content from the show but is usually under five minutes, quite often a single scene from a TV show episode bookended with ads. Personally, I refuse to sit through an ad of any length when the video I want to watch is less than a minute, but that could just be my draconian view of it all. The MVPDs seem to be dropping that sort of thing a bit while the Digital Pure-Plays seem to be picking up on it.
30-Second Ads Dominate in Views and Completion
Finally, in long-form content, 30-second ads are king nabbing 65% of views. On short-form content they're just under half of all ad views (49%). 60-second spots had a whopping 2% on long-form and nothing on short-form (clearly they're not looking at YouTube in this report).
Meanwhile, completion rates favored the 30-second ads as well except in the long-form content where 15-second ads edged their mid-length brethren by 5%.
But again, it's TV Everywhere we're talking about here and most of the ads cannot be skipped so if the viewer wants to see the rest of the content, they must watch the ads. Completion rates are almost a moot point there. The fact that they're not all 100% should say something, people are ditching out, either on the ads at the end of content or at the beginning when a 30-second ad shows up on a short-form video of 2 minutes or less. I know they're trying to show the rosy side of life, but let's face it, many video viewers despise ads and would do almost anything to get away from them, including pay a subscription. I would much rather pay a monthly fee than have to suffer through pointless advertisements that are not of interest to me and have zero bearing on my buying or viewing habits. OK, that's not totally true. I have gone out of my way to avoid a brand because of the massive amount of times I see their ads against some VOD content. So well done, they've instilled a total aversion and massively negative brand image in my mind.