• Peter Hammer

Should advertisers skip over skippable ad formats?

Updated: Sep 2

Once upon a time, in the world of linear broadcast TV, you had no choice but to wait, and sit through the ad breaks (or take the opportunity to jump up and grab a cup of tea!). But now, in a world of on-demand, and in particular short-form video, we readily have the content at our fingertips, and in many cases can even skip past the ads to get straight to the goods.

Unsurprisingly, skippable ads are said to be popular with consumers, with research published by Google finding that 79% of viewers say they like skippable-ad technology, because it allows them to choose ads they're interested in seeing.

Yet despite the popularity of these skippable ad formats, according to AdAge it is unclear how often people hit ‘skip’ on video ads on platforms like YouTube. An online survey conducted by LaunchLeap, and reported by eMarketer, found that 59% of millennials claimed to watch YouTube ads until they were able to skip. Another study by Magna and IPG Media Labs found that 65% of respondents claimed to skip ads when possible.

It is also thought that the younger generations are more likely to skip ads. For example, a study by Kantar Millward Brown found that among people who skip ads, Gen Z skip three seconds faster per ad on average than Gen X.

But it begs the question, should advertisers be investing in skippable formats? Are there key factors that drive skipping behaviour, and are skipped ads still effective for brands?

To address this, we recently carried out some research on skippable ads that was presented at the International Publishing & Data Conference in Lisbon. It involved an ad experiment looking at multiple video ad creatives for a range of brands amongst a sample of more than 1,500 Australians aged 14 to 54. Furthermore, as this was conducted on our purpose-built video testing platform, we were also able to collect passive analytics (e.g. clicks of the ‘skip’ button), as well as survey-based measures of advertising performance.

How much ad skipping occurs, and do younger people skip more often?

Overall, across our sample we found that more than half (56%) of respondents skipped the video ad when the feature was available.

Aligning with other research, we found that younger people were more likely to skip, with 8 in 10 Gen Z/Millennial respondents skipping the video ad when possible, compared to just 4 in 10 for Gen X.

Part of this appears to be related to the fact that younger people are more familiar with platforms with ad skipping. For example, those who had used short-form video sites in the previous week were more likely to have skipped the ad (i.e. % skip = 61% vs. 47%).

What factors drive skipping?

We also looked at other factors that influence the amount of skipping.

Device was key – almost twice as many people skipped on a smartphone device (72%), compared to a desktop/tablet (40%).

We also found that length of advertisement played a role, with 65% of 30 second ad viewers skipping the ad, compared to 52% for viewers of the 15 second ad. This occurs, in part, due to the increased time available. When looking at the second-by-second analytics data the ‘time to skip’ curves are largely similar – but that those exposed to the 30 second ads had a longer opportunity to press the skip button.

How does skipping impact advertising effectiveness?

We also wanted to understand the impact that skipping had on advertising effectiveness metrics – including ad recall, branding, liking and purchase intent.

We expected that even skipped ads would still have some impact, since all participants were exposed to at least 5 seconds of ad content, prior to being able to press the skip button.

The largest difference occurred in brand recall. Those not-skipping had twice the average recall compared to those who did skip (31% vs. 15%).

The difference in other metrics, such as ad likeability and purchase intent, was much smaller. In both cases, there were only minor increases for those who did not skip, compared to those who did.


What does this mean for advertisers using skippable video?

These results provide up-to-date knowledge on skipping behaviour, and it’s our hope that advertisers can better utilise these formats to drive optimal outcomes for their brands. Specifically, we found :

  1. Skipping is common. Assume that if skipping is offered, then more than half the audience won’t make it to the end. This means branding needs to be put early (arguably a finding that is relevant for all video advertising, not just skippable video ads).

  2. Skipping varies by factors such as age, device and ad length. This means advertisers should limit using skippable video for younger audiences, certain platforms (those with a higher mobile skew), and campaigns with longer creative.

  3. Skipped video still has impact! This is great news, since a skipped video will often carry no/a lesser charge, than video ads completed in full. Advertisers should account for the uplift generated by skipped and non-skipped ads in assessing the total campaign spend.

In short, there’s still lots to like about skippable video formats for advertisers – and it is in their interest not to skip over them when planning their digital campaigns.

This data was originally published in our report “Are new campaign formats from digital publishers effective?”. To find out more about the report, please visit : https://www.totalvideo.co/are-new-campaign-formats-effective

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