Why Ad Experience Matters – And What You Can Do About It

By Megan Dobransky

February 23, 2021

In 2020, people found themselves suddenly homebound and consuming more media than ever before. Many people spent more time on streaming video and many of them cut the cord as new streaming services launched, blockbuster movies premiered in our living rooms, and major sporting events live streamed exclusively.

With more options than ever, viewers’ expectations of streaming video continue to rise, especially when it comes to the experience with ads. Consumers want a seamless advertising experience similar to linear television, reduced ad load, and personalization. While the content on streaming is certainly premium, many viewers feel that the ad experience isn’t quite there.

Focusing on the advertising experience is important to retain customers’ attention, reduce customer churn, and prove strong return on investment to advertisers. It’s an area that’s been overlooked but could have incredible benefits for advertiser revenue.

Ad Delays Ruin Engagement

Anyone who has tried to watch a video, only to be met with the spinning wheel of death, knows that ad buffering is an engagement killer. It has also long been a blind spot for streaming providers left to wonder why their audience abandoned during an ad. When content or ads are viewed in isolation, it’s easy to miss the big picture. Visibility throughout the stream, from pre-roll on to completion, reveals buffering is a continuous threat to engagement.

Conviva studied buffering’s effect on engagement and found for viewers who didn’t even make it through 5% of their content, pre-roll ads tallied an average buffering ratio of 1.59%. When a viewer did make it past that 5% threshold—an indication they are engaged with the content—pre-roll ad buffering was just 0.40% on average. Even a seemingly small decrease in the average pre-roll ad buffering can result in large increases in content engagement and monetizable viewing time. While many ads have little buffering, the averages show that in many cases, individuals see high ad buffering, which particularly impinges viewer engagement.

Ad Delays and Failures Drive Abandonment

There are many issues that contribute to a delay in the perfect rendering of an ad. While ads may be seen as an inconvenience to consumers, viewers find delays and quality degradations infuriating when they are experienced during an ad. Conviva measured consumer impatience and discovered that after just a 5 second ad delay, 19.24% of viewers have already given up on waiting.

ad delays cause content abandonment

Failures are amplified and particularly impactful considering the multiplier effect across subsequent ad breaks if a viewer tunes out due to a poor ad experience. With an increasing number of platforms vying for consumer dollars, focus on the entirety of the viewing experience will be an important factor in continued retention and monetization of viewers.

Lack of Frequency Control Creates Churn

Ad frequency is a common pain point for both advertisers and audiences. Oversaturating a viewer with the same ad can result both in churn and negative sentiment toward the ad—and potentially the brand. Additionally, the absence of insight into the true exposure of a specific viewer across devices makes it difficult to understand the value of the investment.

Optimizing Ad Pod Length is Key

Considering how continued viewership impacts revenue is often overlooked, but with each additional ad break portions of the audience are lost, along with the opportunity to deliver ads. Conviva discovered that as consumers fatigue on ads, up to 20% of viewers will stop watching with each subsequent ad. When this effect is compounded across each subsequent ad, the substantial impact means it is vital to find the right mix. As competition mounts and viewer attention wanes, streaming providers must continue to test out the best times, as well as how often and how many ads are delivered.

Defining Premium Ad Environments is Essential

The streaming advertising market is a crowded place, providing advertisers with many investment choices. Premium publishers know that their streaming environments have engaged audiences, so they should be a large part of a video investment strategy and garner higher CPMs than long-tail players. But advertisers don’t have good data to differentiate among investments with similar audiences, because a widely accepted definition of a premium ad experience just doesn’t exist.

What You Can Do About Ad Experience

  • Monitor key performance indicators of experience
  • Benchmark performance against the industry
  • Validate performance with third-party certification

Learn more about how Conviva can help you optimize your ad experience.