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Football Scores for Online Video Advertising

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Regardless of which team wins, online video has turned out to be a touchdown for online video advertisers. Adap.tv, which knows a few things about online ads, recently tore into the data and found some impressive stats: Football games increase online video advertising opportunities by 81 percent and deliver high completion and engagement rates (completion rates rose by 9.4 percent, and engagement grew by 90 percent).

Since the Super Bowl is almost here, we decided to dig into Adap.tv’s results and learn the strategies every video advertising coach should know. To get the answers, we spoke with Thuan Tran, senior director of client strategy at Adap.tv, and Gerry Manolatos, the company’s communications director.

What exactly did Adap.tv study?

Thuan Tran: We took a look at the period before kickoff and then the period right after kickoff to understand the interplay between the football season and video advertising opportunities because, really, people are consuming content across the board.

Gerry Manolatos: The dataset was 3 weeks before Sept. 5, the first day of the pro football season, and the 3 weeks after. We wanted to take a larger dataset just to see whether the patterns held true over the first few weeks of the football season.

How did Adap.tv study ad performance?

Tran: We run a large marketplace and we have large transactional volume. We looked at the 3 weeks prior to kickoff to understand the current market opportunities and then we looked at 3 weeks after kickoff to understand the market opportunities and did benchmark the comparison with those two datasets. We saw a big uptick post-kickoff, post-Sept. 5. We looked at opportunities in-market, as well as engagement, including both performance, growth in video ad opportunities, and click-throughs, and then we did that across screens.

What kind of ad opportunities are there, beyond advertising in the football game itself?

Tran: There’s more monetization going on, so broadcast networks find ways to build complementary programming to increase their NFL footprint -- whether that’s extending the game, the post-show analysis, preshow analysis. My husband wakes up at 7 a.m. on Sunday to watch the fantasy coverage. So, there’s a lot more NFL-related content.

Manolatos: As someone who does fantasy, I am the same way. I wake up early on Sunday and I watch Yahoo Sports. It has a streamed show about fantasy football, and ESPN does as well. I definitely tune in for those.

Tran: To Gerry’s point, he’s watching it on Yahoo Sports. So, people are not only watching football coverage, but they’re finding new destinations for NFL content.

Advertisers trying to reach this audience are looking for a cross-screen play and are looking to reach the audience across screens. What that means is not only are they looking to complement their TV buy, they’re looking to reach users as they’re consuming, regardless of what type of content it is, during that specific time frame a game is being aired. There’s two ways to look at it: Either the advertiser is seeking impact by ownership of all devices across screens, or an advertiser is seeking incremental reach because they don’t have TV dollars to own the NFL season for broadcast. They’re looking to extend that reach and that incremental frequency across screens.

How did you measure engagement?

Tran: Video engagement can be classified as multiple things. For this study we looked at click-through rates and looked at how often is a user clicking through from the preroll. Other advertisers measure engagement in terms of completed video views or engaging with an interactive ad. But for this study, we looked at click-through rates.

Do fans use multiple devices to watch related content while they have a football game on their TV?

Tran: Yes, one of the largest trends is that users are migrating viewership across screens. The data showed regardless of who had the rights to stream the content, users are definitely watching video while they’re consuming the game. Cross-device consumption is definitely in play. After the kickoff of the NFL season, viewers are more engaged, you have higher completion rates, higher click-through rates. Click-throughs actually doubled at the start of the season, and then you have more ad opportunities. And ad opportunities actually correlate to the number of videos viewers are viewing. So, more and more consumption is happening across screens. We see an 81 percent increase in video ad opportunities alone post-kickoff.

Were you surprised to see so much mobile viewing?

Tran: No, not really. Through the years, football has become more of an interactive activity. Between the social channels being integrated within NFL games or even fantasy football, it brings engagement back to the users. You’re seeing more and more users engaged, and the medium to engage is within tablet and mobile and desktop versus within TV, which is really your mass reach player.

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