Test Of New IAB Formats Shows Surprisingly High Engagement

MediaPost normally prohibits self-promotion or promotion of clients in commentaries, but we think the value of the following case study results overshadows the unconscionable plug.
We were so eager to get a sense for the efficacy of commonly discussed video ad formats that we decided to test four of the new in-stream video Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) ad format standards shortly after they were issued in May.

The takeaway? Hugely encouraging. The IAB formats are a great first step in establishing ad unit consistency, and our tests reinforce the effectiveness of online advertising.

We ran the ad campaigns for Honda, T-Mobile and truTV May 20-Aug. 2 and tested the four most popular IAB ad units: linear non-interactive (pre-roll), linear interactive (interactive pre-roll), non-linear non-overlay invitation ad (non-overlay ad) and non-linear overlay (overlay ad). The ads were delivered across run-of-site on and Panache provided the ad delivery and back-end reporting to test the level of user interaction and engagement with each ad format.

The research helped us better understand the effectiveness of the IAB formats and gave us a sense for some best practices: Be specific, be creative, be accessible and be relevant.

Be Specific

We found that if companies match their strategy to the ad format type, they'll have the most success. For those brands interested in driving users to their Website, pre-roll click-through rates were stronger than the overlay, averaging 10% on's targeted viewer demographic. For companies more intent on overall brand awareness overlay ads yielded higher exposure and engagement. More than three quarters of the viewers watched campaigns with the overlay ad for at least 15 seconds, and click-through rates were five times industry averages for standard media. These findings point to the fact that pre-roll ads and overlays will co-exist in the world of online advertising, but for different outcomes.

Be Creative

Rich media and bold colors win the day and drive the purchase. Click-through rates almost tripled for the non-overlay ads when using brighter, vibrant colors for a similar overall creative. People are used to being entertained by video, but given the relatively smaller online form factor for video, the ad needs to stand out more.

Be Accessible

Too many conventional video ads force the user to find the right spot to engage with the brand. In our test, we found that when using interactive pre-roll ads, having the entire ad clickable appeared to impact call to action: Click-through rates were four times as high when the entire ad was clickable.

Be Relevant

The ads tested in our research were highly relevant creative from relevant advertisers targeting the 18- to 34-year-old male audience. As an advertiser, the benefit to have your ad appear on the most relevant sites and to the most relevant audience can help enhance both click through rates and engagement levels.

As the marketplace evolves for the in-stream advertising industry, new formats should and will emerge to continue to give advertisers maximum choice for campaign optimization and expand on a great foundation the new IAB formats have built.

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