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Research Aims To Validate VOD Ad Effectiveness

A group that includes Comcast, Discovery Communications, CBS and ad agency trade group the 4A's is backing the Advanced Advertising Media Project to study the effectiveness of video-on-demand advertising.

The project, dubbed AAMP for short, is being spearheaded by the 4A's and BlackArrow, a provider of dynamic ad insertion solutions for VOD. Other participants include A&E Television Networks, Digitas, Horizon Media, NDS Group and Rainbow Media.

Broken into three phases, the Advanced Advertising Media Project is aimed at testing, measuring and analyzing consumer perceptions of advertising within VOD compared with traditional live TV and DVR playback.

"Free VOD is a real medium for how consumers are experiencing television content," BlackArrow president Nick Troiano said. "What's been missing is a research-based analysis of advertising in free VOD."

A first phase of the AAMP surveyed about 20 industry executives to gauge impressions of the state of VOD advertising. "We identified a lot of frozen perceptions across the stakeholders," Troiano said.

The second phase, which is currently underway, involves consumer research with a panel of about 1,000 people scheduled to conclude by early June with results to be released later in the summer. The research is being conducted in New York and Los Angeles by research firm Ipsos.

The AAMP consumer survey seeks to quantify ad effectiveness across different demographics and ad categories, with different ad loads and commercial lengths. A key focus will be to compare advertising in VOD against both live TV and DVR. "It was really important for the participants to see how people experience ad effectiveness across all three of those," Troiano said.

In a third phase, the AAMP participants plan to stage a field study to evaluate real-world results in a live, consumer test with a major cable TV operator with potentially multiple partners. The findings from phases one and two will be used to develop the test parameters.

AAMP participants will get access to the research, and the group intends to publish most of the key findings (except for any confidential information), according to Troiano.

Other research initiatives, such as Canoe Ventures' "CEE MEE" study on interactive TV advertising, are complementary to AAMP, Troiano said. A 2009 study by Turner Broadcasting System and Cox Communications found that the MSO's MyPrimetime service boosted total views of top shows by almost 10% within three days of air but that didn't specifically measure ad effectiveness.

"There's not a good understanding of who watches free VOD and how they experience it," Troiano said.

Mike Donahue, executive vice president of the 4A's, said that agencies are "seeking clarification on how best to integrate numerous TV viewing platforms into their media buys and optimize value for advertisers. By working together with industry leaders on the AAMP initiative, we will be able to gather and analyze data that that supports research-based, strategic decisions around advanced VOD advertising."

More info on the Advanced Advertising Media Project is available at Privately held BlackArrow's investors include Comcast, Cisco Systems, Intel, Motorola Ventures and NDS.