Study says online ad length, not screen size, matters most to consumers

Size doesn't matter nearly as much as length when it comes to watching and retaining online advertising, says a study measuring multi-screen users' emotional response, attention and self-reported unaided recall. The study, conducted by digital brand advertising software provider YuMe and IPG Media Labs, looked at viewing habits across connected TV, linear TV, PCs and smartphones.

"We expected to be able to see more differences in terms of what screen works best for a specific demo, what content type works best on a specific screen. We didn't see much of that," Travis Hockersmith, YuMe's senior director of client strategy, told FierceOnlineVideo. "The screens performed comparably to each other; it was really the ad load that played the biggest role."

The ad load and the length of the ads in that load both play a role in advertising effectiveness. The study showed that advertisers should think twice before extending the length of an online ad beyond 15 seconds.

"Typically a good 15 will outperform a good 30," Hockersmith said. "On TV, you would want to run a 30 if you're paying the same price as you are for a 15. Online you could make an argument that 15 should carry a higher price tag than a 30 because you simply get a higher completion rate and more attentive audience."

As for the screen, he said, there isn't that much difference in what drives the kind of attention level an advertiser would crave.

"Consumers tend to take the best screen available approach," he said. "While screen size matters in terms of creating excitement, the screen itself doesn't inherently play a role in ad effectiveness."

That means that creative advertising need not be changed to fit the demands of smartphones versus PCs versus tablets; it just needs to be short and to the point--and there doesn't need to be too much of it.

"While you can get people at a fairly high attention level, you can only get them at a fairly high attention level for a very short period of time," Hockersmith said.

This is especially important when you take into account "the physical environment the consumer is in when they're watching because with mobile devices you can be in more or less distracting environments when you're consuming," Hockersmith continued.

This led to the other conclusion for advertisers: cut back on "clutter" as much as possible while enhancing the interactive elements available via new second and third screen viewing options "to create a lot more interaction above and beyond what you can do on a TV," Hockersmith said.

Right now, he continued, online advertising has another advantage over TV. There's no fast forward button; the viewer must watch the ad to get to the content. That doesn't mean, however, that even the most agreeable viewer will sit through a plethora of ads to catch a program.

"The more ads you put in front of someone in a sitting the less likely they are to remember any of them," Hockersmith said. "With these connected screens you're just working with a far lower ad load so it makes them a pretty good value."

For more:
- YuMe issued this news release

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