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Sixty-five percent of people skip online video ads. Here’s what to do about it

Pop-ups, page takeovers, online ads that play automatically and commercials that interrupt someone's Spotify playlist: these are just some of the ways brands try to get consumers to notice them.

One of the most popular forms of online ad format is the "pre-roll," which plays before a video, and can be skipped after a certain amount of time. Brands are expected to double spending on digital video by 2020 to around $17bn in the U.S. alone, according to a report from IPG Mediabrands' Media Lab out this week.

IPG's figures suggest that 65 percent of people skip online video advertising, and they do so as soon as they get the chance. Most people skip ads out of habit, with 76 percent saying they do so because it's an ingrained behavior.

A smartphone with the logo of the Youtube video sharing website on the screen, in front of a computer screen showing the front page of Youtube.
Sergei Konkov | TASS | Getty Images
A smartphone with the logo of the Youtube video sharing website on the screen, in front of a computer screen showing the front page of Youtube.

So what can advertisers do to get people to skip less?

Have a good story

A good story will get people to watch an ad – and remember the brand – more than an ad that focuses more on a product, the research says. Advertisers should also make sure the story includes a mention of the brand early on, because people only watch 5.5 seconds of a 15-second ad before they skip, with this figure rising to 7.4 seconds for a 30-second ad.

Target people who like the brand anyway

Targeting the right people can also help lower rates of skipping. Having bought the advertised brand previously, or having a higher than average opinion of it will have an impact on the skip rate, but gender, income and the number of videos they watch overal online have no impact.

Be emotional and get to the point

Attempting to forge an emotional connection with a viewer will also help. Forty-three percent of people who watched an ad with "high emotion" said they felt engaged by it, versus 32 percent who were engaged by "low emotion" commercials. People are also more likely to remember the brand if the story peaks earlier on.

Branding by the skip button?

One marketing trick is to have the brand name appear close to the skip button on a video ad in the hope of getting viewers to remember the brand name. However, this has little impact on whether someone remembers who is advertising, according to the research. Twenty-one percent of people remembered the advertiser (without being prompted) when its branding was by the skip button, but 24 percent of people recalled the advertiser when there was no branding by the skip button.

"The results of this media trial proved that there are viable solutions to improve skippable ad campaigns," said Kara Manatt, senior vice president, intelligence solutions strategy at MAGNA, IPG's research arm, in an emailed statement. "While skipping is an ingrained behavior, more succinct ads, coupled with human connection and good storytelling, will help brands more deeply engage with audiences."

The IPG Media Lab surveyed more than 11,000 U.S. consumers for its "Turbo charging your skippable pre-roll campaign" report. Respondents selected two or three videos to watch across eight different sectors. They were asked to turn on their web cam so their emotions and attention could be tracked while they watched the videos, and undertook a survey after seeing them.

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