Online Video Ad Loads Rise by 33%, Ad Completion Rates Remain High

Think you’re seeing more ads in TV shows online? You are.

Are they stopping you from watching the show? No, they’re not.

The average number of video ads in digital programming longer than 20 minutes rose to eight ads in the second quarter -- up from six in the first quarter, according to an analysis by online video ad technology provider FreeWheel. What’s more, the average ad load of eight is more than double a year ago, when content longer than 20 minutes averaged only three ads. These are promising findings for broadcasters and producers who have been eager to make money with their programming online, but have been concerned about whether consumers would tolerate the additional ads needed to fund the migration to digital.

The good news is that viewers don’t seem to mind the additional ads. Completion rates for ads in long-form content are the highest they have been since 2010 at 91%. Completion rates in general are high, registering at 80% for mid-length content (shows in the 5 to 20 minute range), and logging in at 69% for short-form videos.

Broadcasters are taking advantage of the consumer tolerance for more ads. FreeWheel said mid-roll and post-roll spots are growing at a greater clip than pre-rolls, partly as a result of efforts being made to sell more ads in TV shows online.

The study also found that viewing across devices has grown dramatically quarter-over-quarter, with 8% of video viewing now taking place on smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and other non-PC devices -- up from 4% in the first quarter. For this report, FreeWheel analyzed nearly 12.5 billion video views and more than 10.1 billion video ad views during the quarter across its customer base, which includes broadcasters and cable networks.

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