In a World of Long-Form Video, Make Your Ads Count

Yahoo research finds shorter is better and video viewers notice mobile ads 37 percent more than other platforms

Video is the most powerful medium of digital media today. Bold statement, right? Sure, we all appreciate weirdly (maybe uncomfortably) funny cat videos, inspiring news segments about hometown heroes, and cheesy-but-heartwarming holiday ads.

But there's more to this story than casual consumption of online video snippets. Today, consumers are enjoying much more than bite-sized content online, and more than 90 percent of digital video viewers watch long-form content. It's not just millennials streaming their must-see TV. Our new research at Yahoo shows it's not just daughters and nephews turning to digital for long-form entertainment; it's also moms, uncles and just about everyone else.

People of all generations just aren't watching as much TV, and the average number of channels viewed is dropping each year. More than half of long-form video viewers (52 percent) have replaced traditional TV with this type of video programming.

As people gravitate to online streaming sites and mobile video apps, the audience for advertisers is growing and shifting. A one size fits all, blanket approach just won't cut it. Now you have to be ready to meet audiences wherever and whenever they want, be it on a tablet, computer or mobile phone.

Marketers want to align with programming that impacts the audience and forges a strong emotional connection. That's where the NewFronts come in. NewFronts offer marketers an opportunity to get a first look at the newest, most entertaining programming coming to audiences online. 

Let's talk more about the audiences—it's a tough crowd. Digital video viewers have high advertising expectations and, frankly, when a different experience is just a click away, why shouldn't they? They want advertising that is compelling and that complements the viewing experience. Much like with the content that moves them in long-form video, they want their ads to entertain and not interrupt.

So what is ideal? Our research shows that 15 seconds is the ideal video ad experience for long-form video. To be as effective as possible, make your ads brief but powerful. Our research also shows that smartphone video viewers find ads to be 37 percent more noticeable than those who watch on other devices, so you really have to make every precious second of a mobile video ad count.

Today's audiences want quality content, they want to connect with the characters and the story, and they want to laugh or to be moved to tears. And there's no more powerful medium than video to evoke that emotional connection, whether it's the long-form video consumers are watching or the brand ads that accompany that content.

Lisa Utzschneider (@Lisa_Utz) is svp sales, Americas, for Yahoo. This opinion piece is the fifth in a weekly series leading up the the start of the Digital Content NewFronts on Monday, April 27.