Digital Video in the UK: More TV-Like Content Means More TV-Like Ads

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In this purported age of digital video in which we live, a picture has been painted of people with rapidly diminishing attention spans watching growing numbers of cute kitten (or puppy) videos on YouTube. However, research from Videology points toward a state of play wherein attention spans aren’t shrinking at all.

Videology’s Q3 2014 update to its “UK Video Market At-A-Glance” report found that 69% of video ad impressions served on its network that quarter were 30 seconds in length—up on 66% in Q2 2014. Shorter ad lengths, of 20 seconds, accounted for only 24% of total ad impressions.

So, where are all the flighty kitten-video-watching YouTubers? Well, they are there, there’s just also a much greater proportion of internet users who are more open to longer-form content than in some other digitally advanced nations. Indeed, while YouTube itself remains far and away the most-visited digital video site in the UK, its dominance is not quite as marked as in, say, the US. Nielsen//NetRatings data from February of this year positioned YouTube as the No. 1 video site in the UK by dint of unique visitors. However, its 18.7 million visitors accounted for just 53% of total visits to the UK’s top 10 video sites. Still a substantial proportion, but compared with the US, much less.

August 2014 data from Experian Marketing Services found that YouTube accounted for 73.4% of total visits to the top video sites in the US that month. It was telling that the Nielsen//NetRatings data for the UK found that TV-on-demand services saw sizeable visitor numbers—BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Channel 4’s 4oD services accounting for 8.6 million visitors collectively.

The implication is that digital video viewing in the UK is more heavily influenced by traditional video (or TV) viewing habits. And when it comes to advertising, that translates to longer ads served during long-form content.

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