If you’ve been feeling like you’re seeing more ads when you watch 30 Rock online, that’s because you are. Long-form online video — like TV shows — included about seven ads on average as of the end of 2011, and that’s nearly double the ad load at the start of last year, according to a report releasing today from online video technology provider FreeWheel that analyzed more than 45 billion video views across sites such as ESPN, Discovery, AOL, VEVO and more.
Plus, consumers appear to be tolerating the ads. Long-form videos garnered an 88% completion rate of video ads in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to 82% in the third quarter. More ads being watched is a good thing for marketers and programmers. But are the ads truly being watched? The great unknown remains — have we all just timed up the ads perfectly for a bathroom break or a quick snack, just as we do with live TV? I’m willing to bet that consumer recall of ads in long-form online video could be dwindling. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m just so busy grabbing a handful of popcorn that I forgot to see who sponsored the Valentine’s episode of Parks & Rec.
More ads being sold is a good thing, too. In the first quarter of 2011 just over half of professional video content of any length had an ad in it; by the end of the year three-quarters did. “Long-form content, most of which is brought over to streaming platforms from broadcast and cable, now features ad loads that are approaching those of television,” FreeWheel said. Plus, seven ads per long-form video is still about a third of the ads viewers would see in a TV show on-air.