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From Teens to Adults, Everyone's Now Watching Online Video as Much as TV

Global study finds similar habits among ages 16 to 45

People are watching more digital video, but they don't like the ads. Getty Images

Globally, people are spending as much time watching online video as they spend watching TV, according to a new report from Millward Brown. That should bode well for brands trying to target cord-cutters or "cord-nevers," but digital promos annoy many viewers.

For Millward Brown's study, "AdReaction: Video Creative in a Digital World," the research firm polled more than 13,500 multiscreen viewers—i.e., people who own a TV and either a smartphone or tablet—in 42 countries on what they think about video advertising.

The average consumer between the ages of 16 and 45 watches 204 minutes of video a day, split equally between TV and online. Forty-five minutes of the average online viewing time is done on a smartphone, while desktop accounts for 37 minutes and tablet for 20 minutes.

While it's been known for months that millennials and Gen Z consumers were watching as much digital video as television, Millward Brown's study shows that Gen Xers are behaving the same way.

Only 19 percent of online viewers responded favorably to ads compared with 27 percent of live TV viewers. On mobile, the distaste for advertising was even higher, with 49 percent of consumers responding negatively to video ads. Sixty-three percent said they should be able to control which ads they see.

Forty-nine percent of people liked mobile-app videos that reward people with virtual incentives like points for playing games, and 31 percent of consumers responded favorably to skippable mobile preroll ads. Only 14 percent of people said that they liked mobile pop-ups, the ads that take over a screen, and 15 percent tolerated nonskippable video ads.

Context seems to make a big difference. Forty-one percent of people responded favorably to ads tailored to their interests, while only 25 percent liked ads that tracked their browsing history like a retargeted promo for a pair of shoes that follows someone afrer they've visited a retailer's website.

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