VideoNuze has a good piece today about online video pre-roll ads and user behavior. Summarizing two separate reports–one from YouTube & Scripps and another from AdoTube, a video ad technology company–the conclusion is that nearly 50% of viewers watch online video pre-roll ads all the way to the end, even when they’re given the option to skip the ad entirely.

Just stop and think about that for a moment. Isn’t the public supposed to hate advertising? Don’t we see complaining all the time online about having to sit through pre-roll ads before watching the video you really want to see? So then why do so many of us watch pre-roll ads, even when we don’t have to?

Many Viewers Watch Pre-Roll Ads In Their Entirety

YouTube & Scripps released a case study of three different YouTube ad programs they ran with the True View ad-skip feature enabled. And 44% of viewers watched the ad through to the end. Every single viewer had the choice to skip, but only 56% of them did so.

In AdoTube’s report, they found that 45% of viewers who had the option to skip pre-roll ads still watched the entire ad. Since this is a report they put out with some regularity, they’re also able to tell us that this is a 7% increase from the previous quarter, and even “on par with conventional pre-roll ads.” Good grief… they’re saying that people who have the chance to skip past an ad are watching the entire ad–the whole thing–almost as frequently as people who have no choice whatsoever. That’s just staggering to me.

But What Does It All Mean?

The first thing we have to take note of is the fact that this data is not necessarily representative across the board of online video viewers. We’re only looking at two reports, and we all know how wildly different the various analytics firms can be in their findings.

But I think maybe it means viewers don’t care as much about having to watch ads as we thought. Maybe they just want the option to skip, more than they actually want to skip?

Or, maybe it doesn’t mean that at all. Maybe some viewers aren’t savvy enough yet to even know they have the option to skip. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t immediately realize the “skip this ad” button is even there.

Or maybe it means that brands are finally finding their stride in creating engaging online video ads that people actually enjoy? So they’re less inclined to skip because they’re having a good time?

As you can see… it probably doesn’t “mean” anything just yet. But it’s definitely a good sign, particularly for advertisers. They’re probably putting on party hats and drinking punch. All they want is to engage viewers, and spend a little time in front of them. And this data suggests that when we give them the option to bypass that… they very often don’t. That’s going to make a lot of CEOs smile.

What about you? Be honest. Do you skip the pre-roll ads? Or do you find yourself watching the entire thing? If so… I’d love to hear what your reasons are.