American Marketer


Context key in online video advertising

August 11, 2016

Neil Cunningham is managing director of Cream UK Neil Cunningham is managing director of Cream UK


By Neil Cunningham

Premium and luxury brands love video – it is the best way that digital media can offer to engage their potential clients in their story and to showcase the superior quality of their wares. So any research in the field of video advertising is sure to pique our interest.

The latest study from Teads, the world’s premier video advertising marketplace, looked into the importance of context on the effectiveness of video advertising and had some key findings: Seek out premium content environments and avoid social and video sharing sites.

Not on a roll
Teads’ research – which focused on video ads displayed on smartphones and combined in lab eye-tracking with post-exposure research into purchase intent – found that consumers were more likely to engage with ads in premium content environments than in social feeds. That is simply because consumers take more time to consume content that they have paid for and scroll less than they do when checking their social feed.

As a result, nine out of 10 view ads within premium in-ad editorial versus only six out of 10 in their social feed.

Not only do a higher proportion of consumers view ads in these environments, they dwell longer with them too – 24 percent longer than on social feeds, according to Teads’ research.

We know from earlier research that dwell rate and time are key predictors of uplifts in brand metrics and purchase intent, so this should lead to premium environments performing much better in post exposure research. And they do. In-article native video ads delivered a 27 percent increase in purchase intent. But that is not the most interesting piece of this research.

Firstly, Teads research found that advertising in social feeds delivered absolutely no measurable effect on purchase intent. None at all. The purchase intent for those who had viewed ads within the social feeds was almost identical to the control cell (43 percent versus 44 percent).

Secondly, the research found that pre-roll ads on video sharing sites also delivered minimal uplift – 48 percent purchase intent versus 43 percent.

The reasoning for this was that eye-racking research found that users tended to focus on the skip button rather than the video itself: nine out of 10 did so, and three out of four of those actually used it. It implies that the relationship between dwell time and dwell rate and purchase intent is broken for pre-roll ads because people are focusing on something that is not part of the ad.

Dwell on it
Taken at face value, this research has the potential to halt the juggernaut that is social video advertising in its tracks. Why invest in something that is having absolutely no effect on consumers’ intent to buy your product?

But we have to bear in mind it is only one study, was focused on smartphones, was not specific to our industry and, surprise, surprise, it finds the type of video advertising that Teads specializes in selling is the most effective.

However, there is a lot of logic to these findings.

Placing video ads in environments that users are going to dwell longer with and scroll more slowly through will increase the amount of time as the video ad is “in view” and increase those important dwell time and dwell rates. It is understandable that users are spending so much time watching the Skip Ad countdown that they are not paying much attention to the pre-roll ad playing out above it.

WE FIND IT hard to believe that video ads on social sites and video sharing sites have such negligible impact on purchase intent, but not that in-article native formats – particularly those in premium environments – perform much better.

It certainly suggests that premium and luxury marketers should prioritize such environments when planning their video campaigns.

Neil Cunningham is managing director of Cream UK, London. Reach him at