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The Science of Online Video Advertisements

Today Akamai announced the publication of a new study, "Understanding the Effectiveness of Video Ads: A Measurement Study," designed to gain a scientific understanding of when viewers complete watching online video ads and when they abandon them. With analysis of an aggregate 367 million videos and 257 million ads from over 3,000 publishers that were viewed by 65 million unique users worldwide across the Akamai Intelligent Platform, a great deal of useful information can be gleaned from reading the study. For example:
  • The position of an ad has the single largest impact on completion rate, with a mid-roll ad 18.1 percent more likely to be completed than the same ad as a pre-roll, and pre-rolls 14.3 percent more likely to be completed than the same ad as a post-roll.
  • Repeat visitors to a site have higher completion rates for ads on that site than one-time visitors to that site.
  • Viewers are more tolerant of video ads than of slow-loading videos. Viewers who must wait 10 seconds for their video to load are three times more likely to abandon than users who spend the same amount time watching a pre-roll ad. 
  • Users who abandon ads leave early. One-third of the abandoners leave at or before the quarter-way mark and two-thirds at or before the halfway mark in the ad. 
  • Ads that play within long-form content such as TV episodes and movies complete at a higher rate (87 percent) than those that play in short-form content such as news clips and sports highlights (67 percent).
  • Time of day and day of week do not affect ad completion rates substantially.

The study goes to great lengths and detail to account for a multitude of variables that could affect ad completions and abandons. In addition to providing a deeper understanding of how factors of an ad, the video and the viewer influence an advertisement's effectiveness, the study is intended to help drive the evolution of video monetization models that are so critical to the growth and success of online video. 

Akamai's Sola Analytics cloud-based video measurement and reporting product was used to collect and analyze the massive amount of data leveraged for the study. 

Co-authors S. Shunmuga Krishnan and Ramesh K. Sitaraman are presenting the study at the Internet Measurement Conference 2013 on Thursday, October 24, in Barcelona.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.