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Consumers Receptive To Lots Of Ads In Free VOD: Study

Viewers have high recall of video-on-demand ads in ad loads comparable to linear TV -- and VOD ads actually deliver slightly higher purchase intent than traditional commercials, according to a new industry-backed study.

The study by the Advanced Advertising Media Project (AAMP) coalition measured viewing behavior of about 1,000 consumers. A key finding was that aided recall of advertised brands was statistically the same (63% to 64% for "light" ad loads and 58% and 59% for moderate and heavy loads, respectively).

In addition, VOD ads generated higher interest in finding out about a particular brand, and purchase intent for an advertised brand, of between three and five percentage points across all ad loads versus linear TV, according to AAMP.

"Consumers have said loud and clear that they'll accept advertising," said Nick Troiano, president of BlackArrow, which was a founding member of AAMP.

The caveats: The study was conducted in a media-lab setting, and included 10 major, recognizable national advertisers (AAMP didn't identify them). In addition, all the consumers who participated had used VOD.

The second phase of the AAMP study came after an initial qualitative study gauging perceptions among industry executives of dynamic VOD advertising. Troiano said AAMP's third phase will comprise a market trial to be conducted in the first half of 2012. That research, developed based on the results of the first two studies, will be designed to deliver a more "real-world" test of VOD ad effectiveness, he said.

Still, the most recent study confirms that programmers can feel confident about packing more ads into on-demand premium TV content, according to Troiano.

"You can potentially put a lot more ads in these high-value, popular shows," he said. He added that the study didn't include targeting capabilities of any kind -- e.g., advertising beauty products in shows that overindex on women -- which should increase effectiveness further.

The study found between 31% and 38% of participants across all ad loads rated the TV viewing experience as "excellent," and between 65% and 75% rated the experience as "excellent" or "very good." That's comparable to "excellent" (29%) and "excellent" or "very good" (66%) for linear TV.

"At the highest level, consumers emphatically look at VOD as TV," Troiano said. "It's not a 'digital' experience, it's a TV one. They look at VOD as a ‘TV plus' environment, maybe a little better or different."

The AAMP study also found consumers are more receptive to longer-form ads on VOD than on traditional TV, with viewers expressing 64% higher interest in a brand featured in a 90-second VOD spot than the same 90-second ad in linear television. The 90-second ad generated twice the interest of a 30-second VOD ad.

The study, conducted by Ipsos OTX in New York and Los Angeles, tested four different VOD ad loads within 19 primetime TV shows or segments of 30 minutes each. The test formats included: a "light" load with three minutes of inventory; a "moderate" load of five and a half minutes of advertising; and a "heavy" load which contained eight minutes of advertising. In addition, the study tested a second version of the "light" load that included a 90-second ad unit. All groups were benchmarked against the standard eight-minute linear ad load.

The test used a set-top box VOD interface that was custom-built by NDS. Consumers used a mobile handset app to record their experiences while viewing; the study also incorporated follow-up interviews with 30 participants.

The AAMP study did not measure consumer perception of disabled fast-forward in VOD. However, across all ad loads, less than 20% of participants used the fast-forward feature across VOD and DVR.

Members of the AAMP research consortium include the 4A's, A&E Television Networks, ABC, AMC Networks, BlackArrow, CBS, Comcast, CTAM, Digitas, Discovery Communications, Horizon Media, Intel, NBCUniversal and NDS.

Among operators, Comcast has deployed dynamic ad insertion for VOD across much of its footprint.
"The AAMP findings mirror our own customers' favorable response to increased choice and control with their entertainment viewing," Marcien Jenckes, Comcast's senior vice president and general manager of video services, said in a statement. "Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers with the best programming content available, while providing opportunities for sponsors and advertisers to benefit from the On Demand platform."

The full report of AAMP's phase two study is available at