TubeMogul does some fairly interesting research from time to time. This time they embarked on a journey of discovery in regards to how many unique visitors to a media company homepage will watch a pre-roll video ad. As we don't always go to broadcaster sites to watch a video, it's valid research. Let's roll.Websites for NBC, ABC and the like have far more information on them than just episodes of their hottest shows. They have air time schedules, synopsis, cast and crew details, discussion areas and more. So it should come as no surprise that almost none of the unique visitors to the site ever see a pre-roll video ad while there. In fact, it's astoundingly low it seems.

Since video is all the rage, and the sandbox in which we all build our castles, TubeMogul, who also has a sand castle in our arena (see the fine print on this article), decided to check into this via their InPlay metrics package, which tracks on-site data for hundreds of media companies spanning billions of monthly streams.

It turns out that, overall, less than 14 percent of unique viewers to a site will see a pre-roll. Ouch! They went further and broke that down into content categories. While broadcasters had the highest percentage (see chart) 20.4%, magazines and newspapers didn't do so well. Then again those are mostly print formats historically and perhaps people just don't go there for video. Heck, I have the same issue at GDN, which is about video game, where the majority of people come and read, not watch videos.

So overall, 13.1% of those UV are seeing a pre-roll ad across those three types of networks according to their research. That's pretty low really and means your video ad campaigns on those sites in particular are going to have very limited reach in regards to the actual audience of those sites.

The Take Away

mmm... Chinese foodHere's my thinking then. You want to advertise online, and you want to target people that watch a specific show, documentary, film, whatever. So you blow loads of cash on video creative and trying to get your pre-roll ads into the pre-roll mix on the site that has the full-length episodes whether it be a broadcaster or whatever. You put all your money into that campaign and get a really low ROI and can't figure out what happened. It's simple. Not as many people saw those videos as you were hoping even though you pushed out perhaps millions of impressions. So you might do better to run a mix of ads including display and not just video.  You can still get those display ads in place on the sites as many of them are still supporting their online presences with advertising. You might then have a much larger reach and higher ROI with your advertising campaigns. TubeMogul agreed and said that:

If an advertiser wants to reach an entire site's audience with a given video ad, in-banner display or interstitial advertising could be complementary additions to increase reach.

Kung Pao! I'm out!

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The Fine Print

For a 14-day period, we tracked unique homepage visits and resulting video views for a large sample of media companies, including top television broadcasters, print publications and online media outlets. Views hailed from anywhere within the publisher's site; views from off-site embeds were excluded. The sample only includes publishers that are monetizing video through pre-roll advertising. We quantified visits by limiting the sample to sites with video players embedded somewhere on their homepage, logging every time a unique visitor loaded the player on the homepage and then watched -- or did not watch -- a full pre-roll video ad throughout the site.

Works Cited:

  • TubeMogul's patent-pending InPlay video tracking technology.
  • TubeMogul's partners.

In the interests of full disclosure:

  • TubeMogul sells both pre-roll and in-banner video advertising, although this study is agnostic to what publisher or advertising network, platform or service actually served the ads.