Study: The Longer the Video, The Longer People Watch

  |  June 21, 2006   |  Comments

Longer executions win out over short creative in an Atlas study on the cable video-on-demand platform.

When people view long-form video on an on-demand cable platform, they tend to watch a greater percentage of the longer creative executions. That's the conclusion of an Atlas Digital Marketing Insight study that's expected to be released today.

For the report, "On Demand Digital Video Duration," Atlas measured what it calls brand exposure duration (BXD) over campaigns that ran across six major MSO (define) operators including Charter, Time Warner, Cox, Adelphia and Comcast. The company calculates brand exposure duration by looking at the number of views, the percentage of the segment that is viewed and the length of the segment. Campaigns Atlas studied varied in length between :60 and 2:30.

Though researchers had expected viewership to drop off with longer creatives, in fact, the longest-running asset proved the most engaging, compelling people to watch 115 percent of it. That percentage reflects repeat viewings through rewinding the video.

The creative that achieved 115 percent was from a national retailer. "The retailer found a niche target to go after and put together content relative to that audience," said John Chandler-Pepelnjak, senior analyst at Atlas. "Ultimately it's still a commercial, you don't expect people to watch repeatedly, and it was over two minutes long."

The response to shorter assets, which ran between :60 and :75, was variable. People watched between 70 and 110 percent of the shorter creatives. The one execution that ran 2:00 was worst at keeping viewers' attention. It only got 58 percent viewership.

In general, however, brand exposure was increased by the length of the execution. "When working with short-form video [commercials embedded in other content], push for :30 over :15, :60 over :30. The number of people who will drop-off because of the greater length will be outweighed by the increased time that most spend with your segment," the report advises. "In long-form advertising on VOD or Webisodes, strive to lengthen shorter segments with relevant content."

Despite this recommendation, the researchers noted that performance still varied even among videos of the same length. The report said this indicated the important role quality creative can play in keeping users involved.

The report also tackled the issue of whether users should be allowed to fast forward through creative. Though users' ability to fast-forward through commercials on TiVo and DVR devices makes most advertisers cringe, the report advises against blocking the fast-forward function in an on-demand situation. "We have seen creative assets for some advertisers that were viewed up to five times longer than other creative assets of the same length for the same advertiser in the same campaign. If these campaigns ran in streams that did not allow fast-forwarding, this learning would have been lost as would the opportunity for creative optimization," said the report.

According to Chandler-Pepelnjak, many advertisers don't want to pay for the impression of an ad that was fast-forwarded through. But he counters, "[blocking fast-forwarding] is giving away data in favor of the unknown. Let the ads be fast-forwarded so you can see the behavior."

The company expects to present the study today at the Advertising Research Foundation's Audience Measurement Symposium in New York.

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Enid Burns

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