Less than half of online video ads are even seen, Vindico says

Online video advertising may not have the glowing future some reports suggest if new research is any indication. It's likely that more than 1 billion ads on the Internet are never seen by their intended audience.

A New York Times article questions whether online video viewers are actually watching the ads. More than half of the 2 billion video ads out there are unviewable, the article said, citing the results of a two-month survey by Vindico, an ad platform provider.

Benzinga's Tim Parker cited that statistic in an op-ed where he suggested that online video ads are returning to a "marketing stone age" similar to the days of print advertising, with companies posting ads and hoping for the best.

"First, about 57 percent of online video ads are unviewable. They're either buried too low on the page, stuck in tiny, unnoticed video players, or ignored altogether. Second, the amount of available slots on big-named sites like NBC are too few to accommodate the amount of (those) interested," he wrote.

It's a surprising finding, NYT's David Segal wrote in the article, because of online video ads' oft-touted ability to target specific audiences. That's an attractive selling point, but many companies aren't getting what they pay for.

It's not all doom and gloom: A two-pronged study conducted for NBCUniversal by Latitude and MediaScience found that people who watch TV news are more likely to decide to buy an advertised product than people watching any other type of programming. Why? Opinion was split between the type of ads influencing viewers--ads placed during news programs are different than ads placed during sports programs, for example--or the way viewers watch news versus other programs.

"There is a lean-in mentality when the consumer is watching news, and it truly is a decision making tool for them," said Linda Yaccarino, president for ad sales at NBCU, in a Broadcasting & Cable article.

While that is a TV-focused study, its implications for advertising on all platforms could be compelling. It also suggests that advertisers--and up-and-coming online video ad verification companies already rising to address the online ad viewership problem--should be taking a much closer look at how users are viewing ads--and if they're seeing them at all.

For more:
- The New York Times has this story
- Benzinga has this story
- B&C has this study

Related articles:
Report: 3 in-app video ads run for every mobile Web video ad
YouTube moves toward premium in bid to attract advertisers
Can online video advertising outpace TV ads? Skeptics sound off