Got a Moment? Here's An Extremely Brief Report on Short Attention Span Video Ads

According to new research commissioned by Aol, consumers would rather be pitched prior to watching short videos rather than being pitched at the beginning and middle while watching longer videos online.

In short—and short seems to be the operative word here--consumers aren’t so interested in replicating the TV style mix of advertising and content when they are watching video online. At least not right now.

Why would the AOL On Network care so much? Well, it claims to have the largest, premium short-form video library on the Web, and so, this is a study that is saying, “Hey! Aren’t we suddenly more attractive?”  When Aol said in its press release, that its new research” may surprise you” (because earlier research said viewers might prefer longer videos) I was pretty much assured which way the results would be headed.

(Though just so you know, that cynical-sounding jab disguises my real opinion that a short ad within a short video obviously would be more appealing than more ads in a longer video. It’s just the way I pre-roll. ) 



"Consumption habits are evolving rapidly, and we're seeing consumers display many of the same ad avoidance tendencies online than they do with TV," said Ran Harnevo, senior vice president of The AOL On Network, in a press release. "Our hope is that this research will help advertisers optimize their ad mix for maximum effectiveness and ROI in the face of changing behavior online.”

For the full results of this study, visit

The Aol study also has these suggestions for advertisers with online video segments. I’ll summarize. Be brief. Be funny. Offer prizes. And try to relate to the video content. And also, if it’s all the same, don’t ask viewers for their email addresses right off the bat (With a little rewording for the situation, this is advice that would be helpful on the “singles scene,” if there still is something like that.  Viewers/advertisers and strangers in bars are deep into “avoidance tendencies,” me thinks. Certainly you’ve fast-forwarded past certain people you didn’t want to see at parties, yes?)   

The Aol study was conducted by Qualvu, Short-form videos featured pre-roll ads, while the long-form videos –10 minutes in length or longer--featured ads at the beginning and the middle.

Not surprisingly, given the more than half a century’s worth of “research” gained from the television industry, when viewers are interrupted by advertising, they do something--almost anything--else. There are stories, true or not, about how large city municipal water systems experience huge spikes of use during commercials within popular shows. And yes, despite how enticing and engaging online video ads may be, those messages are also competing with sandwich-making, and visits to the loo.

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1 comment about "Got a Moment? Here's An Extremely Brief Report on Short Attention Span Video Ads".
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  1. Patrick Fitzgerald from Straight Face Productions, December 19, 2012 at 12:39 p.m.

    This can't be surprising; the content and delivery of video ads is driven by the people responsible for TV advertising and fails to account for the on demand ethos of the digital media consumer. TV is a passive exercise; hence the emerging 2 screen viewing practice. Brands need to construct and produce content for the digital consumer that reflects the query/response nature of the media and fully utilizes the engagement opportunity of the platform. Any other strategy is leaving about 85% of the value of digital media unused.

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