Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

You Are Watching More Web Video Ads, and You Are Okay With That

We’re watching more Web videos than ever: More than 42 billion a month in the U.S. And we’re watching more Web video ads, too.

That seems like an obvious correlation. But, until recently, that wasn’t the case, for a couple reasons. Some Web video sites had held back a bit from shoving ads in front of users’ faces, for fear of scaring them off. And lots of folks who wanted to buy video ads couldn’t find places they wanted to place them.

This is changing now, and that means the Web video business might finally be catching up to the long-running Web video boom.

Here, for instance, is promising news for ad buyers and sellers, via FreeWheel, a start-up that helps serve and manage video ads for the likes of Turner, Vevo and Fox. FreeWheel says that last quarter, for the first time, the rate of video ad views grew faster than overall video views — 128 percent versus 97 percent:

Just as important is that viewers seem okay with the bump in ads, too. The completion rate for the ads seems to have held steady, even as the number of ads has increased.

That’s particularly true for “long-form” stuff — often TV episodes on Hulu and other sites — which have recently seen ad loads double. The longer you watch a video clip, it seems, the more likely you are to watch the accompanying ads all the way through.

Easy enough to cover this stuff with caveats, the most obvious being that FreeWheel is anything but an unbiased observer here. It’s also important to note that this data goes through the first part of this fall. And, as lots of glum Web publishers will tell you now, the Web ad business has gotten a lot less robust in the last couple months.

Big picture, the Web video business is still very much a work in progress, which you can see at a glance by noting the turmoil at Hulu, or YouTube’s overhaul. And there’s still a long way to go: Video ads grew 42 percent in the first half of the year, but still only make up 6 percent of the overall Web ad business. But if it keeps headed in this direction it’s going to quickly make up ground.

Speaking of YouTube, here’s a clip Google’s site tells me is a new favorite. Involves some standard-issue hip-hop swearing:


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google