Yet another study of Americans’ broadband video viewing patterns underscores the dramatically fast uptake of mobile viewing and also the increased acceptance of online advertising – by both viewers and marketers.
Online video usage increased 38% from the second quarter 2012 to the same period this year, according to FreeWheel Advisory Services’ “Video Monetization Report, 2Q2013."
FreeWheel’s analysis, drawn from more than 18 billion video views, concludes that as scale continues to build, digital video increasingly reflects the linear TV experience.” It observes that 30-second ads comprise 50% of online commercial viewing, and that “digital pure-play” – that is, online-only content such as YouTube – drove 80% of ad views in short-form content.
FreeWheel notes that viewers watch the entire 15-second and 30-second online ads at nearly identical rates: about 76% for pre-roll commercials, 97% vs. 91% for mid-roll ads and about 62% for post-roll ads. (This finding is from “Linear + Digital” content providers; ad viewing for “Digital Pure-Play” content is slightly different.)
Viewing patterns on tablets and gaming consoles “closely mirror traditional TV viewing,” according to FreeWheel, before noting that long-form content represents about 45% of content watched on such devices.
FreeWheel’s latest report pays more attention than its previous quarterly studies to the ways in which “Linear + Data” providers (i.e. traditional media companies that release content via both “broadcast” and online platforms) compare to “Digital Pure-Play” providers in their ability to monetize content. Digital Pure-Play ad views jumped 41% from Spring 2012 to the same period this year, while Linear + Digital ad viewing climbed 31%, according to FreeWheel’s research.
The study also finds that Digital Pure-Play drove about 80% of ad views from short-form content, while Linear + Digital providers “monetized a more diverse content mix.” Ad loads on long-form Linear + Digital sites rose 12% year-over-year, while ad loads on mid-and short-form programs remained flat.
Not surprisingly tablet viewing jumped dramatically, especially since autumn. Tablets accounted for 13.2 7% of video viewing in the second quarter of 2013 compared to 7% during the same period last year and 7.5% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Watching video on smartphones or other mobile devices also doubled during the year: 2.2% in 2Q2012 and 4.3% in 2Q2013.
Among the most striking findings in the FreeWheel report is the share of video views on OTT devices – a statistical quirk caused by the near-doubling of tablet usage which seems to have taken viewers away from OTT boxes. A year ago 1.7% of viewing was done via OTT devices (such as Roku, Apple TV and other set-top boxes as well as videogame consoles). In 2013’s second quarter, the share was down to 1.2%, having fallen as low as 0.8% during autumn 2012 and winter 2013.
The FreeWheel study also identified that impact of mobile viewing on desktop video streaming. In Spring 2012, 89.1% of videos were watched on PC or Mac desktop computers; by 2Q2013, that share dropped to 81.3% in Spring 2013.
While the FreeWheel analysis confirms other researchers’ upbeat predictions for “non-traditional” viewing, its core message is about the migration of advertising to these addressable platforms. Yet the migration will not be simple.
“We continue to see evidence of movement toward linear TV viewing experiences and monetization strategies, reinforcing our belief that the industry continues to work toward linear and digital convergence,” the report concludes. Nonetheless, FreeWheel’s analysts note that despite benchmark indicators, “the industry is still in the very early stages of bringing together the best of linear TV with the best of digital video.” And it cites “challenges ranging from measurement to organizational” that will persist “for the foreseeable future.”