Ad Views in Premium Content Rose 24% in 3Q, Says FreeWheel

Ad views in premium video increased 24% in the third quarter compared to a year ago in the U.S., according to a new report from FreeWheel.

Video stars increased 30% as publishers continue to make content available across more platforms, including through expanded TV Everywhere agreements with distributors, according to FreeWheel’s Video Monetization Report.

While ad views in clips and live streamed video rose, the biggest increase in views and share came in full episodes, 29%, as OTT services flourished and more operators enabled dynamic ad insertion into content viewed via set top boxes.

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Set-top box video on demand ad views grew 54% year over year, accounting for a 20% share of premium video ad views.

But live monetization of digital simulcasts of linear broadcasts, plus digital only events, grew by 26% and claimed nearly a quarter of total ad views. Taking advantage of IP-based streaming TV services, live programming doubled its share of ad views during the quarter, FreeWheel said.

In the report, premium video viewing Is shifting back to bigger TV set screens from other digital devices. Ad views via OTT devices that connect to TV sets, such as Roku, rose 47% year over year. Full episodes represent 55% of the content viewed on OTT devices, compared to 37% for live programming and 8% short clips.

“In addition to delivering better experiences to viewers, premium publishers have become more sophisticated in terms of how they drive value for advertisers. More publishers now offer their inventory to advertisers through both direct and programmatic sales channels, which allows buyers to apply their data and execute campaigns with greater automation,” the report said. “In Q3, programmatic ad views grew 19% year-over-year, the strongest growth rate of any quarter in 2017. Publishers are also investing in new ways to allow advertisers to directly target audience segments.”

Though programmatic is growing, 87% of sales were done directly, and direct sales volume was up 14%.

In a sample of FreeWheel clients using our supply-side platform, 93% of programmatic impressions were delivered in private marketplaces, the report said.

“These marketplaces enable publishers to control the buyers that can access their inventory. Additional control allows publishers to better enforce brand compliance, making the model attractive for brand marketers as well,” Freewheel said. “Buyer transparency also protects the publisher and promotes a positive ad experience for the viewer. In addition, as private marketplaces are built on existing relationships, many agencies and publishers also use these channels to execute direct-sold deals.”

Engagement with ads remained high. Ad completion rates for full episodes were 84% for pre-roll commercials and 98% for mid-roll. On average there were 4.1 ads per mid-roll break.

“In the face of rapid changes and increased complexity, premium video publishers continue to innovate, making it easier for consumers to watch their content and advertisers to reach their intended audiences. New players and incumbents continue to push the industry forward, continuously introducing new technology, platforms, and features. Emerging solutions that use data to improve ad relevance and customize the experience to each viewer will be critical to advancing the industry forward and retaining market share,” the report concluded. “Premium publishers have a proven reputation for providing a quality viewing experience and a safe advertising environment that will only become more important as the industry evolves.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.