Viewers of free video-on-demand content stay engaged with advertisements despite varying lengths of the ad loads, according to Phase II of the Advanced Advertising Media Project (AAMP) study that was released this morning.

Advanced Advertising Media ProjectThe members of AAMP, which was formed earlier this year, are building their case for the effectiveness of advertising in free VOD. While VOD continues to grow in popularity as cable operators add more content, there hasn't been a means to effectively monetize the service.

The first phase of AAMP's study was released earlier this year, while Phase III, a market trial leveraging findings from the prior phases, will be conducted in the first half of next year.

Conducted with television programming from 11 AAMP member broadcast and cable networks and branded messaging from 10 national advertisers across six categories, the AAMP study revealed four basic themes:

  • Advertisements within a VOD context statistically have the same impact, no matter what the size of the ad load.
  • Because consumers view VOD as television, they accept advertising on VOD as a logical part of the on-demand experience.
  • On-demand television has a positive effect on consumers' sense of control over content and advertising.
  • VOD provides opportunities for increased ad durations that can foster greater storytelling and information sharing by advertisers.

"The AAMP findings mirror our own customers' favorable response to increased choice and control with their entertainment viewing," said Marcien Jenckes, senior vice president and general manager of video services for Comcast. "Our ultimate goal is to provide our customers with the best programming content available, while providing opportunities for sponsors and advertisers to benefit from the on-demand platform."

Conducted by Ipsos OTX, Phase II of the AAMP study tested three different VOD ad loads within 19 primetime TV shows, or segments of 30 minutes each. The test formats included: a "Light" load with three minutes of inventory, a "Moderate" load of five and one-half minutes of advertising, and a "Heavy" load that contained eight minutes of advertising. In addition, the study tested a second version of the "Light" load that included a 90-second ad unit. All groups were benchmarked against the standard eight-minute linear ad load.

Participants watched comedy, drama and reality programming that contained ads from various categories such as automotive, consumer products, financial services, pharmaceutical, retail and technology. The tests were conducted in custom-built media labs in New York and Los Angeles, and they utilized a sophisticated set-top box VOD interface that was custom-built by NDS.

Consumers used a specially created mobile handset app to record their experiences while viewing; in addition, in-depth follow-up interviews were conducted with 30 participants.

Among the most significant findings were clear indications that said the size of the ad load had no impact on viewer engagement with VOD. Aided recall of advertised brands was statistically the same (63 percent to 64 percent for light loads and 58 percent to 59 percent for moderate and heavy loads).

In addition, VOD ads delivered an uplift of between three and five percentage points across all loads for both interest in finding out about a particular brand and purchase intent for an advertised brand.

AAMP participants include stakeholders from various disciplines around the industry, including 4A's, A&E Television Networks, ABC, AMC Networks, BlackArrow, CBS, Comcast, CTAM, Digitas, Discovery Communications, Horizon Media, Intel, NBCU and NDS.

More information on the study and AAMP is available online.