NEW YORK ABC.com is about to find out whether one good ad deserves another.
Disney-ABC Television Group will begin conducting research next week on inserting multiple commercials into ad breaks for prime-time series on its broadband player.
The industry standard for streaming full-length episodes restricts commercial pods to a single marketer. "Limited commercials" has been a selling point for all platforms that provide long-form programming, including ABC's rival networks and platforms like Hulu.com.
"It would be premature for us to say people only want one ad," said Albert Cheng, evp, digital media at DATG. "It's a likely sort of thinking, but we want to push it a little bit to see how it would go."
Upping the ad load would amount to the most aggressive move yet from ABC.com in its quest to draw as much ad revenue online as it does from on-air. Although cost per thousands typically are higher online because of the targeting and interactivity of Internet ads, TV still has much bigger audiences.
ABC.com has long been a dominant pioneer of long-form online video, becoming the first brand to provide such broadcast programming as Lost and Grey's Anatomy. Although ABC.com's traffic is about on par with other broadcasters, it blows them away in time spent on the site -- more than three times as long as nearest competitor CBS. The average time spent on ABC.com in March was 47.5 minutes, according to Nielsen.
Cheng believes the key to sustaining viewer interest in ads is tailoring them for the Internet. Although most Web ads simply are reformatted 30-second video from on-air, he noted that ABC research indicated dramatically higher results for commercials that encouraged interactivity like casual gaming.
"Those who package 30-second spots into the ad pod do poorly," Cheng said. If research shows that users don't want more ads per break, Disney won't pursue that strategy, he added.
The ABC.com research is being done in collaboration with the Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter and Adweek.