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It used to be that most time spent with smartphone video was reserved for “snackable” content, but the increase in premium content available to viewers has resulted in a “democratization” of screen size, according to Ooyala [download page]. In its latest quarterly report covering Q1 2017, the company reveals that long-form content (20+ minutes) now comprises the majority of time spent with digital video on each screen.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that most videos being played are longer-form: after all watching one video that’s 25 minutes long takes more time than watching 20 1-minute videos. But it nonetheless demonstrates that longer-form content is now playing the dominant role in terms of how digital video viewing time is allocated.

Looking at the specific devices, the study shows that long-form content represented:

  • 98% of viewing time on connected TVs, up from 83% a year earlier;
  • 81% of viewing time on tablets, up from 51%;
  • 65% of viewing time on PCs, up from 35%; and
  • 55% of viewing time on smartphones, up from 29%.

Those figures suggest that while screen democratization is occurring, long-form content is generally preferred on larger than smaller screens. The tablet, not the PC, however, is the closest cousin to connected-TV in terms of viewing behavior.

Video Ad Completion Rates

In terms of video ad completion rates during the first quarter, broadcasters continued to have more success than publishers (with this said a result of their greater array of premium content), while connected TVs again had the highest completion rates.

For pre-rolls, completion rates averaged the following:

  • Connected TVs: 93% for broadcasters; 85% for publishers;
  • PCs: 90% for broadcasters; 78% for publishers;
  • Tablets: 86% for broadcasters; 71% for publishers; and
  • Smartphones: 85% for broadcasters; 76% for publishers.

For pre-rolls, broadcasters enjoyed the following completion rates:

  • Connected TVs: 99%;
  • PCs: 97%;
  • Tablets: 94%; and
  • Smartphones: 91%.

Notably, publishers saw a mid-roll completion rate on smartphones of just 54%. Ooyala’s analysts indicate that “consumers still may be less willing to consume ads on their smartphones as they graze websites than they are with broadcasters, where they may be going to watch specific content.”

One would expect that as more time is devoted to viewing premium content, mid-roll completion rates will improve.

Live Video Continues to Gain Steam

Separately, FreeWheel recently released its own look at premium video viewing in Q1, noting that live streamed ad views accounted for close to one-quarter of all ad impressions for the quarter, while full episode content represented 60% of impressions.

The crux? “People are increasingly turning to premium video for TV-quality experiences.”

FreeWheel’s report also shows that viewers will watch ads in return for longer content: pre-roll completion rates averaged 87% for full episodes and 88% for live-streaming content, as opposed to 70% for shorter clips. Almost all viewers likewise completed mid-roll ads for full episodes (98%) and live streaming content (97%).

As for ad loads, they remained relatively steady at about 4 per mid-roll break in full episodes. There was an average of 1 pre-roll ad per 2 video clips.

Finally, 77% of ads in full episodes did not repeat during a stream, while 62% of ads in live streams did not repeat during a stream.

Improving the consumer experience is a key challenge for the video advertising industry today, with frequency capping one of the ways in which to improve that experience.

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