Study: Video Ads Should Be Short, Relevant

Consumers will tolerate advertisements that appear during their search for online audio and video content, and willingly accept that short 10- to 15-seconds ads are “part of doing business” on the Web, according to a new market research study from video search and ad network provider PodZinger.

The research revealed that consumers prefer 10- to 15-second ads in comparison to the typical :30 TV spot. That’s partly due to shorter consumer attention spans for online audio and video, he said. Behavior patterns on PodZinger’s network show that consumer attention spans for online video are even shorter than for online audio: one minute on average for video compared to three minutes for audio clips. For longer content, like a 7.5-minute video or 22-minute audio, consumers tend only to play the first 15 percent of the content. “This is a new and separate area for advertisers. It has its own issues of what consumers will tolerate,” Alex Laats, CEO of PodZinger, told ClickZ.

With shorter attention spans for online content overall, it only makes sense to show shorter ads as well, he said. “If the consumer is only going to play content for a minute, you’re not going to want to put a :30 spot there,” Laats said. Frequency of video ads was also a concern, as participants in the study found video ads “annoying” if repeated too often.

Almost three-quarters of respondents viewed search-relevant advertisements positively, and several even considered the ads to be an added level of personalization. For audio and video search, the level of relevance is different than for text-based search, however.

“If someone is doing a text search while shopping for a DVD, they’re going to want to see ads for DVDs. If someone is doing an audio or video search for DVD player reviews, they’ll accept a wider range of consumer electronics ads as relevant,” Laats said.

Based on PodZinger’s statistics, 85 percent of all online audio and video activity falls into one of five categories: entertainment, technology, news and politics, music or sports. The most sought-after category of video is entertainment, Laats said, noting that entertainment represents 36 percent of all online video played, but only 6 percent of available video.

The research was conducted in September by market research firm Pathfinder Innovation, in anticipation of the launch of PodZinger’s video ad platform in October.

The platform includes a co-branded partner network that includes “This Week in Tech” site, video blog Rocketboom, and two sites for Boston-area radio stations owned by Entercom. Those partners submit their content to be indexed by PodZinger’s search engine and place a PodZinger search box on their sites. They share in the revenue generated by ads sold against their content. Other content owners that submit their video clips to PodZinger’s search engine can also choose to join the advertising program and share in the revenue generated from ads.

Through speech-to-text technology, PodZinger automatically assigns a category to the content and targets advertising based on it. Ad rates are based on length of the content and the frequency that the content is played.

“It’s hard for advertisers to decide if they should advertise on a site like YouTube or MySpace, because a large portion of what’s on there is garbage, pornography, or it’s illegal,” Laats said. “If they know how content is being used and how it’s being classified, they can have confidence in the delivery of their brand message in that environment.”

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