Video Ads: Print Publisher Reveals the Unviewable Truth

May 5, 2014

I read “The Great Unwatched.” Clever title. (Keep in mind the link may go dead and you will have to hunt for a hard copy. Good luck with that, gentle reader.)  The main point is that video ads do not draw eyeballs. Er, this is a revelation I suppose. What I find interesting is that in my poking into video on the Web something became obvious years ago; to wit, put up a lot of videos and the videos don’t get much action. Sure, there may be a breakaway video that draws lots of eyeballs, but those viral wonders are tough to predict.

Now, what about ads? People want to turn them off or ignore them. There is a reason that regular TV commercials blast sound. Couch potatoes and walking media consumers want what they want, not what advertisers want them to want.

The New York Times reports, as real journalists do, the following:

By many estimates, more than half of online video ads are not seen, either because they are buried low on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players on those pages, or run simultaneously with other ads. Vindico, an ad management platform company, deemed 57 percent of two billion video ads surveyed over two months to be “unviewable.”

There you have it. Most people don’t watch video ads.

I thought that Google’s gyrations were a pretty strong hint that video ads were an issue. The companies pumping money into ad videos may not be overwhelmed with customer demands for their products. The Web site data we examined showed that video was fun to talk about, often fun to produce, and probably fascinating for a handful of people. But getting the videos watched was a problem. If videos are not watched, what’s this mean for video ads? My understanding is that video ads are a sales disappointment.

There are some interesting implications. First, Google and others looking for video to deliver the next influx of easy money may have to rethink their assumptions. Second, fun stuff like making videos may have the value of a ride on a roller coaster. Once the ride is over, more fun requires another ride. There is limited satisfaction from the carnival attraction. Third, marketers may find themselves looking for a way to generate leads and makes sales that actually work. In short, video dreams disappear like the image on a display screen when the power cuts off.

Making an ad video is way more entertaining than watching a video ad. Just don’t tell anyone who does not “get” the joy of non linear editing.

Stephen E Arnold, May 5, 2014

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