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Is a Completed Video Ad a Remembered Ad?

TubeMogul finds that a positive relationship exists between completion rates and message recall. The State of Real-Time Video Advertising in the U.S.

Wednesday 05th of December 2012 06:00:00 AM

Download the full report as a PDF

Key Findings

- Completed = Remembered: Among viewers that watch an entire ad, the rate of message association more than doubles, growing from 8.3% to 20.5% over control.
- Lift Benchmarks: By category, electronics and computer brands lead in purchase intent, with 10.9% lift over control, beating out consumer packaged goods (2.2% lift) and entertainment properties or media companies (3.8%).
- Scale Breaks Record: The number of daily pre-roll video ads available for real-time buying now eclipses the number of Americans, with an average of 331.5 million ads available per day in October. Monthly growth is 7.3% in 2012.
CPMs Mostly Flat: Likely driven by this growth in inventory, CPMs for pre-roll video ads are mostly flat, down slightly at $8.18 from $8.83 during the first half of 2012, when inflation was 2.5% per month.


It is easy to get lost in a sea of video “engagement” metrics and lose track of what a brand actually cares about. At a minimum, marketers want to know an ad is actually watched by its target audience for a price that maximizes brand impact per dollar. More fundamentally, marketers yearn to know whether viewers remember a brand’s message and respond (i.e. are more likely to purchase).

The goal of this report, the second in a quarterly series, is to report on the state of these variables as they relate to effective media buying and begin to answer how they interrelate. For instance, although it is well-documented that that click-through rates have little bearing on whether a viewer plans to purchase or remembers a brand, what about other metrics? For instance, how much do completions matter for lifting message association or brand awareness?


Data for this report comes from top brand campaigns run through TubeMogul’s media buying platform in the U.S. in the third quarter, spanning hundreds of millions of impressions across standard pre-roll video ads. Brand lift data comes from TubeMogul’s BrandSights survey technology, which launched in September and now counts over 75,000 survey respondents.

For the purposes of this research, “lift” is defined as the absolute difference (subtraction) between the percent of correct answers of exposed viewers (people who saw the ad) and a control group (people that did not see the ad). “Correct” answers are defined as the answer that the brand desires and indicates a positive perception of the brand by the survey taker.

CPMs shown below represent average clearing prices for pre-roll ads on thousands of sites available from the leading private and public exchanges, spanning billions of bids. As such, they reflect the raw cost (i.e. what goes directly to the publisher), before TubeMogul’s transparent cost is added, or fees from rich media, 3rd-party targeting, brand surveys or other partners. Content tiers are mentioned briefly here and are explored more extensively in previous research.

Brand Impact Benchmarks & Tradeoffs

Overall, real-time video ads are performing well, with exposed viewers remembering a brand message 8.3% more than viewers that did not see an ad. Exposed viewers also expressed an intent to purchase 2.4% more than the control group.

Benchmarking by industry vertical, electronics and computers have the highest rates of purchase intent, followed by online services (i.e. online dating).

Interestingly, when broken out by whether a viewer actually completed an ad, the rate of message association more than doubles, growing from 8.3% to 20.5% over control.

Tier one sites continue to have the highest completion rates, up from the first half of the year. Over 84.9% of viewers on tier one sites now watch watch an entire ad.

Inventory Available & Price Trends

Pre-roll video ads available for real-time buying continue to post dramatic growth, with inventory expanding at a rate of 7.3% per month in 2012. Much of the growth is in the last three months, which average 323.6 million impressions per day­—exceeding the American population for the first time on record. CPMs Q3 video advertising


The most significant finding is that video completion rates—widely used by video advertisers for years—appear to be a great proxy for lifting the number of viewers remembering a brand message, whether it is which tires are designed to last the longest to which brand of faux sausage patties taste the most like meat.

In terms of video ads available for real-time buying, the last three months are worth noting. An additional 100 million pre-roll impressions per day were brought online compared to earlier in the year, likely the cause of CPM inflation ceasing.

Beyond inventory, real-time video advertising is clearly performing well in terms of lifting brand metrics, despite what concerns might remain in some quarters. Interestingly, electronics and computers outperformed in terms of purchase consideration, likely meaning it is easier to get a viewer to consider buying a new phone than it is to get them to commit to a specific consumer packaged good (i.e. toothpaste) that they are used to buying regularly with less brand loyalty.

The next report in this series will focus on isolating the degrees to which good creative and placement quality each matter in lifting brand metrics.

For more information, contact:

David Burch, Director of Communications