Does Quality Pay? It Would Seem So

A lot of research prove the very things we always assumed were true in the first place, or prove the points the company that sponsors the research wants it to prove. Or both.

Undertone, the ad serving platform that attempts to help its clients’ campaigns by placing the advertisers’ video messages on well-regarded Web sites---its Preferred Publisher Portfolio. That’s pretty logical. If you want to sell Cadillacs, advertise in The Wall Street Journal. Undertone’s clients have run the gamut from AT&T to the Detroit Tigers to Victoria's Secret.

 Earlier today, Undertone released its study that finds, among other things, that the quality of the site where an ad appears is the “primary driver of brand perception, consumer intent, engagement and overall satisfaction.”

MediaPost’s  Gavin O’Malley wrote about what Undertone and its study partner, IPG Media Lab, describe as the “halo effect” enjoyed by an advertiser whose video appears on a quality site.

Undertone depends on Trust Metrics which defines a Web site’s quality, more or less along the lines of  the same things you’d look for in a print product: accuracy, appearance, trustworthiness and so on.

Another major finding in the study is that click-to-play video ads elicit nearly four times as much positive response as auto-play ones, which again, would seem to make sense. If you ask for something, you’re likely to be happier than being forced to view an auto-play ad. Click-to-pay is also Undertone’s niche, so the results certainly doesn’t do battle with its point-of- view.

Jared Skolnick, vice president of product marketing, says what he’s looking forward to is what advertises do with the information.

“I’ll like to see if the numbers proves the cost trade-off  between auto-play and click-to- pay correlates to the value performance that an advertiser is going to get,” he says. In other words, is click-to-pay worth it?  Skolnick estimates that click-to-pay costs about twice a much to reach the same number of viewers as auto-play.

The difference, of course, is that that auto-play viewers are more or less victims—they get the video whether they want it or not. The Undertone study includes eye tracking and facial expressions. Viewers of click-to-play ads had happy or surprised responses nearly four times more often than when they watched auto-play blurbs—which they often tended to just discontinue. Click-to-pay’s eyes stuck to the ad a lot more than auto-plays.  

But Skolnick points out, if awareness, not engagement is the goal—for example, if a movie studio wants to create word of mouth for a big movie –auto-play might be the most efficient way to get the word out.

Unless, as the study points out, your auto-reaction is auto-awful.  No good done there.   

Surprising, given all the attention that ad placement issues get on Web sites, this study says it doesn’t mean much to consumers.  “Frankly that was the most surprising finding to me,” says Skolnick. “That’s the one [finding] that went away from everything I knew or thought I knew going in. Whether it was a siderail vertical ad or the center of the page didn’t seem to matter but the caveat there is it mattered that side rail tends to be auto-play and center of page tends to be click to play.”


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