Video Ads – Is Shorter the Answer? July 17, 2009

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Per an article that appeared in Ad Week today…

MTVN Touts Shorter Web Video Ads

July 16, 2009

– Mike Shields


NEW YORK MTV Networks believes it has found a better answer for short-form online video advertising than the derided 30-second pre-roll: very short video spots (five seconds long) accompanied by corresponding but slightly delayed display ads.

The company this week disclosed the results of an elaborate study on online video advertising called Project Inform. That effort sought to find a better ad standard for the burgeoning medium, preferably one that combined brand effectiveness with user tolerance.

MTVN started with over 20 ad unit possibilities. By early 2009, it had boiled down its list of potential ad formats to three, including the classic pre-roll. Another unit was called the Lower 1/3 Product Suite, which combines five-second pre-rolls with transparent Flash ads that take over the bottom third of users’ video screens only after 10 seconds of content has streamed. The other unit was dubbed the Sideloader Product Suite, which also utilizes five-second spots and delayed animated display ads appearing at the side of the video player.

From January through April of this year, MTVN began testing the three placements on its collection of sites, including, and The test used 50 million streams of ad inventory for three different advertisers, including a movie studio, a packaged-goods provider and a grocery brand. The results indicated that while pre-rolls performed fairly well, the Lower 1/3 scored best when it came to classic metrics like unaided awareness, aided awareness and purchase intent.

Why do people like the Lower 1/3 unit?  It’s hard to say definitively, but Stirratt theorized that it has something to do with the lag between the short five-second pre-roll and the display unit, which appears 10 seconds later. Using that setup, “You already have a favorable impression of a brand, and people are really engrossed in content. And they are still able to interact if they want,” she said.

“Obviously, we need agencies and clients on board [creating original online video ads],” Stirratt said. “The win for the industry is when people start creating things for this medium instead of for other media.”

<Read the whole article here>

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