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Recent research from FreeWheel delved into aspects of the video advertising experience, finding that the lack of creative diversity for a single campaign was the single-most cited reason for a poor ad experience. So how often do ads repeat, at least in premium digital video? FreeWheel’s latest quarterly Video Monetization Report – covering Q2 2017 – offers some answers.

During the quarter, an impressive 84% of US ad views in full-episode content did not repeat throughout the viewing session, per the results. Encouragingly, that’s an improvement from Q1, the analysts say. That’s important, as full-episode content accounted for the bulk (61%) of premium digital video viewing time during the quarter.

Live video, faced with more challenges, did not display the same momentum. For the quarter, 62% of ad views did not repeat within the same stream. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) repeated at least twice.

FreeWheel’s analysts attribute this to longer viewing sessions and a restricted number of eligible advertisers.

This is particularly the case for Sports content, which the analysts say can be dominated by few categories, such as Auto. Sports content comprised almost three-quarters (73%) of time spent with live premium video in Q2, which in turn represented about one-fifth (21%) of all viewing time.

Ad Loads and Completion Rates

Another aspect of the video advertising experience is the number of ads served – which numbered 3.9 on average in a mid-roll break during full-episode content. Viewers on OTT devices were likely to see more ads (4.1) per mid-roll break than those on desktops and smartphones (3.7 each).

OTT device users, however, tended to see fewer ads when watching clips. They averaged 1 pre-roll for every 2.7 clips viewed, compared to 1 per 1.5 clips for those on tablets.

Still, that might be better than viewers’ expectations: online video viewers tend to expect around 3 ads per 4 clips, according to separate FreeWheel research. About half would prefer to see one longer ad rather than a few shorter ones.

Not surprisingly, completion rates are lower for pre-rolls than for mid-rolls. The lowest completion rate was for ads appearing before clips (70%), whereas viewers were mostly content to sit through ads before full-episode (85%) or live (88%) content.

Virtually all viewers watched mid-roll ads to completion during full episodes (97%), and more than 9 in 10 ads served during live content were also completed.

OTT Devices Still Lead in Viewing Time

For the second consecutive quarter, OTT devices topped all others in ad view share. Though down from Q1, OTT devices comprised 29% share of ad views during Q2, ahead of desktops (27%), STB VOD (20%), smartphones (16%) and tablets (8%).

Interestingly, smartphones’ share of views dropped by a couple of points year-over-year, and the number of total ad views on smartphones increased by a relatively small 14% from the year-earlier period.

That slowdown aligns with other research, from Ooyala [download page], which found that mobile’s share of video plays stalled in Q2 for the first time.

As for the content viewed most on these devices?

  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of time spent with premium video on OTT devices was for full episodes, with 21% devoted to live video;
  • All time spent with premium video on STB VOD was with full episode content;
  • Desktop/laptop viewing time was fairly evenly split between clips (39%), full episodes (35%) and live video (26%);
  • Viewing time on smartphones leaned more heavily towards full episodes (49%) than clips (35%) and live video (16%); while
  • Two-thirds (68%) of tablet viewing time was allocated to full episodes, with one-fifth going to clips and one-eighth to live video.

The full report is available for download here.

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