Advanced Television

Study: Viewers don’t dislike ads, just bad ad experiences

May 30, 2024

FreeWheel, a technology platform for the television advertising industry, and MediaScience have released findings from its Viewer Experience Lab initiative.  The report, Improving the Quality of Ad Experiences, explores what factors contribute to a low-quality ad  experience and how content owners can improve ad experiences for viewers in order to provide brands with the best results.

“The good news for advertisers is that contrary to what some may think, the research found that ads themselves don’t actually impact programme enjoyment for consumers. However, what does bother them is bad ad experiences such as ad latency, unnatural ad breaks, and slate, negatively impacting brand perception and recall,” commented Mark McKee, GM, FreeWheel. “It is our responsibility as an industry to work towards building better viewer experiences, which in turn will help brands connect with audiences in premium environments. We need to get this right not just for the advertisers, but for all of us as viewers.”

According to the study, there was no change in how much viewers enjoyed a programme when there were ads present versus when there were no ads present. Key findings of what contributes to low-quality ad  experiences include:

• Latency: Latency bothers nearly 80 per cent of viewers and negatively impacts the perceived quality of the programme, ads and brands.

• Unnatural Ad Breaks (or when an ad appears at a time in the content that feels disruptive): 71 per cent of viewers are bothered by unnatural ad breaks leading to higher ad intrusiveness (+16 per cent) and  decreased brand recall (-14 per cent).

• Slate: While viewers are less bothered by slates (33 per cent), their physiological response to the  content indicates they experience less joy compared to a programme with no slates. In addition, slates negatively impact perceived quality of surrounding ads (-3 per cent).

In this study, viewers participated in an in-lab viewing session where they were shown 30-minute programming on a blinded streaming service with varied ad experiences including: no ads, latency, slate and disruptive ad breaks compared to a control cell with limited ad breaks in a seamless viewing experience. To uncover the impact of low-quality ad experiences, the findings in the report are based on  the viewers’ responses regarding their experiences, as well as their physiological responses to the ads and content.

“With the premium video content and advertising ecosystem rapidly evolving, brands are struggling to  break through the clutter and get their message in front of audiences in a meaningful way,” said Dr Duane Varan, CEO, MediaScience. “On top of that, ads are showing up across multiple apps and platforms without any adjustments, resulting in less-than-optimal execution. This is another bespoke, industry-first research study we’ve built with the FreeWheel Viewer Experience Lab to understand the  real impact that bad ad experiences have on viewers and how that ultimately impacts brands. Using the findings from this report as well as the previous two can help the industry create better ad experiences  and environments for consumers.”

To address some of these industry issues, and with FreeWheel’s continued focus on the viewer  experience, FreeWheel has developed tools to enhance the creative approval process, better manage ad frequency, and reduce the appearance of blank ads, or ‘slate’. The company plans to announce details of this innovation in the near future.

This latest research was  fueled by findings from a previous study from the Viewer Experience Lab that found that, based on some estimates, ad avails not filled on FAST channels can be up to 25 per cent , creating frustrating downtime for viewers and underutilised inventory for FAST programmers. The next study, launching later in 2024, will analyse how ad relevance impacts viewer experience.

Categories: Advertising, Articles, Broadcast, Consumer Behaviour, Research

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