How to balance length and frequency of online video ads

Mark Husak, director of media development, Europe, MIllward Brown

Article here

Online video provides a tremendous opportunity to shape how and who your brand message reaches in ways television has never done. From frequency capping and optimisation of dwell time or click through, to context and page position, choice and control of brand content is truly mind boggling.

But some of the big basic questions still remain, questions advertisers are still grappling with for conventional TV. Like how long should my ad be? What’s the most efficient frequency of exposure? Do people have the patience for longer formats online or is frequency the way to go to beat the clutter? Or is it just a matter of how much you can afford.

Dynamic Logic research helps us shed some light on these questions. And the answer is… well it depends on what the brand’s objectives are for using online video in the first place. Let’s first look at brand awareness:

Brand Awareness Uplift (Control vs. Exposed)
Video Length (sec.) 1 2 3-5 6-9 10+
10 or less 1.02% 1.08% 2.17% 3.39% 3.69%
11-20 1.48% 2.31% 2.22% 2.45% 4.86%
21-30 2.53% 3.90% 5.22% 5.81% 7.56%
Over 30 2.13% 5.85% 3.90% 3.69% 4.51%
Source: Dynamic Logic Market Norms.Based on over 650 case studies with over 500,000 control and 225,000 exposed survey respondents

Short spots build awareness and more exposure frequency builds it further, up to +3.69% on average for videos under 10 seconds (10+ frequency) to +7.56% on average for  videos of 21-30 second length (10+ exposures) . Longer spots also perform better than shorter spots and also continue to build brand awareness with increased exposure.  For example, at the 3-5 frequency range, videos 10 seconds or less achieve an average uplift of 2.17%. This increases to 5.22% uplift on average for videos 21-30 seconds long at the same frequency range.

This is true on average for anything up to 30 seconds. But look at what happens for ads over the standard 30 seconds. Brand awareness uplift is maximised after about 2 exposures (uplift of 5.85%) . After that extra exposures don’t really do much at all. In fact more exposures might hurt a little as people tune out as uplifts range from 3.90% uplift for 3-5 exposures to 4.51% for 10+ exposures. The best effect is created with a slightly shorter spot, more times.

Now let’s look at purchase intent.

Purchase Intent (Control vs. Exposed)
Video Length (sec.) 1 2 3-5 6-9 10+
10 or less 0.86% 1.11% IFR 1.68% 1.76%
11-20 0.91% 0.58% 1.45% 2.00% 2.11%
21-30 0.97% 2.33% 3.57% 3.50% 2.65%
Over 30 2.27% 2.71% 2.03% 2.16% 1.36%
Source: Dynamic Logic Market Norms.Based on over 650 case studies with over 500,000 control and 225,000 exposed survey respondents

The effect of frequency here paints a grimmer picture. The shortest spots (under 10 seconds) are still generally immune, growing from +0.86% uplift after one exposure to +1.76% exposure at the 10+ frequency level. Even 20 second ads grow purchase intent even after 10 or more repetitions (to +2.11%). However, for longer activity, there seems to be an inverse relationship between length and the tolerance people have to its recurrence. For example, 21-30 second videos achieve maximum uplift after 3-5 exposures. Past this,  frequency is hurting the brand as patience levels have reached a limit.

For longer spots (greater than 30 seconds), the threshold is even shorter. Two exposures achieves maximum (+2.71%), after which activity is just antagonising the viewer.

What does all this mean? Well, if you’re just trying to get your brand known or keep it top of mind, lots of frequency with short spots online work just fine. Longer lengths work even better, but you need to balance effectiveness with efficiency.

On the other hand, if you are trying to really influence purchase in the short term, longer spots may be the way to go, but be careful not to overdo it on the frequency. You already have their attention. Use it wisely.


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