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Advertising Works Better in Live than On-Demand: Yahoo

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Live video fosters a better advertising relationship with viewers than does on-demand, according to Yahoo.

"When consumers are watching that live game and they're feeling really passionate (and are in the moment), they have the same feeling for those ads as they do for the live content," Lisa Utzschneider, Yahoo's chief revenue officer, told the audience during a session last week at Advertising Week New York. "What we found on Yahoo is ads associated with live video, they work harder."

Yahoo is planning on growing its advertising revenue by producing more live streaming content, especially in finance and esports. Yahoo Finance now streams three live financial shows every business day, and the company has 400 live sports events slated for the year.

Live video was watched by 64 percent of consumers online in the past year according to a Yahoo study. "We saw a 700% increase in positive emotional engagement about how (viewers) felt about the ads running. We saw a 481% brand lift in brand favorability and a 77% increase in purchase intent," said Utzschneider.

"Last year we realized there was a tremendous opportunity to create a whole new category of business news by live streaming big corporate events like annual meetings and developer conferences, as well as big conferences like Davos and the Milken conference," said Andy Serwer, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance. "With our scale, 74 million monthly users at Yahoo finance, plus our technology and our global reach, we could really take this to a whole other level."

Yahoo is building a reputation in this niche with a number of high-profile events under its belt. "We did The Concordia Summit in NYC where we interviewed T. Boone Pickens, George Soros, Jane Harman, Donald Rumsfeld, and many others. We had 12 million people watch live and VOD in 48 hours," said Serwer. Yahoo saw 20 minutes of average viewing time for these events, a duration that compares favorably with sports and entertainment.

In September, Yahoo live streamed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at his company's Ignite conference. It also streamed Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting this past April. "[Warren] Buffet is known around the world, and it was incredibly gratifying to understand that people in China, India, North America, Latin America, and Europe were watching. At one point 2 million people were watching that live," said Serwer. 

The potential of these millions and millions of eyeballs make marketers very happy. When Serwer was organizing the coverage of the meeting, he said he wanted to run ads on the live coverage. Buffet's initial response was, "You're not going to interrupt my annual meeting with your ads." They came up with the idea that the annual meeting would be like a "Super Bowl of Finance," with a pregame show, a half-time show, a break for lunch and a post-game show with analysis and questions, said Serwer. "We would be able to serve video ads in these shows and also create new content that surrounded the event to give it context."

The question is whether finance viewers be as excited about the ads as the sports fans purportedly have been? Only time will tell. We'll check back next year to see how things have developed.

Yahoo contends the research from their current study are amazing results for marketers. These statistics are impressive, yet the result some speakers re-iterated through the four-day Ad Week conference was that increases in physical sales are the best measurement overall. Nonetheless, there's a strong probability that advertisers will jump at this opportunity. Marketers moan about the dearth of premium content. If everything Yahoo says is true, it is about to see a healthy bump in the amount of premium content in the finance niche.

But don't just believe what Yahoo says. When Warren Buffet is pitching live streaming, there's probably more value there than you think.

AdvertisingWeek NY has on-demand content from many session online now. Omer Luzzatti, Yahoo's senior director, head of video platform, will be talking about the future of live video at the Live Streaming Summit in Huntington Beach, Calif. on November 2.

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