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Media buying decision-makers view the consumer experience as the biggest challenge facing video advertising today. So what’s the state of the ad experience – as measured by ad loads and repetition? The latest quarterly Video Monetization report from FreeWheel offers some answers.

Ad Loads Remain Stable

There’s been no movement in ad loads, FreeWheel reports, which remained stable throughout 2017. In Q4, viewers saw an average of 3.9 ads per mid-roll break for full episodes of premium digital video content. That average figure fluctuated between 3.9 and 4.1 during the year, per the report, and was consistent across devices.

Meanwhile, viewers watched an average of 1.8-2 clips for every pre-roll ad in the US, with the fourth quarter average coming in on the lower end (1.8) of that range. Unlike ad loads during mid-rolls, the average ratio of pre-roll ads to video clips differed across devices.

In Q4, tablet viewers saw a pre-roll ad every 1.5 clips, while on OTT devices and smartphones they saw an ad every 1.9 clips.

There may actually be consumer appetite for greater ad loads, but executives do believe that these should be dynamic based on content consumption.

Ad Frequency Shows Signs of Improvement

Video ad buyers also feel that frequency capping would have a positive effect on the consumer experience, and there are signs that the industry is getting this right.

During the fourth quarter, 86% of full episode content streams had no ad repeats, up from 77% in Q1. There was less movement within live content streams, 63% of which had no ad repeats (compared to 62% in Q1). FreeWheel notes that this may be due to the dominance of sports in live streaming, as “sponsorship deals often lead to the same advertiser appearing multiple times while longer average viewing sessions increased the likelihood an ad will repeat.”

In fact, 17% of live content streams in Q4 featured at least 2 repetitions, while just 3% of full episode content streams did the same.

Completion Rates Remain High

If completion rates are an indicator, then the video ad experience is satisfactory. Pre-roll completion rates continue to be higher among full episode (87%) and live (87%) streams than among clips (73%), a fairly unsurprising result given the tradeoff in time.

Meanwhile, mid-roll ad completion rates are even higher: they average 96% for live content and 92% for full episodes (though that’s down from 98% in Q1).

Overall, premium video ad views grew by 22% year-over-year in 2017 and by 29% during Q4.

The full report is available for download here.

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