Guest post by James McDavid

Today we’re publishing two reports exploring the current state of online video advertising, one focused on US and Canada and a second on Europe. This is a piece of research Forrester has conducted periodically over the past five years, allowing us to map the growth of the medium as it has risen to become a major component of the marketing plans for many brands, and this long-term perspective has allowed us to identify both the good practices and the bad habits that have taken root in the practice.

Amongst the positive elements are:

  • Many publishers now take great care to ensure that video content on their site is presented in an uncluttered fashion. This is allowing marketers who’ve bought in-stream ads access to consumers without having to compete against a barrage of banners on the same page.
  • Publishers in the US are leading the way here in delivering ‘clean’ viewing experiences – The New York Times and USA Today are good examples of how to present video in a way that benefits both advertisers and consumers.
  • The adoption of interactive ad formats has also gathered pace, bringing new and engaging approaches to in-stream video ads and facilitating a break from a ‘TV-lite’ medium toward something with its own creative boundaries to play with.
  • While there’s a long way to go until interactive video ad formats become the norm, it’s heartening to see advertisers – and those from Europe stand out in particular here – experimenting with the creative avenues opened by these formats.

For all the good found in the research, there were equally some examples of what not to do:

  • We’ve seen the average advert duration rise to over 20 seconds across US, Canadian, and European videos we tracked.
  • There are still too many advertisers that are putting their TV spots directly into in-stream positions, ignoring the different viewing habits of consumers online.
  • Adverts are repeated too frequently; in some cases, advertisers are showing the same piece over 10 times in a row, and we’ve seen the content-to-ad ratio fall to nearly 1:1 since 2011. 

With the good practices and the bad habits lined up against each, other online video advertising is sure to make compelling viewing for the spectator in the near future. And for those of you who are participating, the question is, what side do you want to join? Hopefully you’ll find the answer in one or both of these pieces of research.

If you’ve any questions about this topic, please comment below or get in touch with me @james_mcdavid.