Users do not mind seeing double the number of ads — eight vs. four — interspersed in an online broadcast of an hour-long TV show, according to new research done by ABC.com. News of the study came during a panel discussion yesterday including Disney-ABC TV Group’s EVP digital media Albert Cheng, and we followed up with ABC to get more of the numbers.
Regardless of how many ads were shown, 90 percent of ABC.com viewers continued to say they’d rather get the show for free than pay to get it without ads. (Though that’s a self-selecting group, because people who want to pay are probably over at iTunes.)
ABC also found that viewers actually prefer a greater variety of ads. (Amen to that!) Decreasing the number of times a single ad was shown actually improved people’s opinion of a brand or their likelihood to buy its product. We viewers get the point the first time.
We’re not talking about anything seriously game-changing since the ABC study only ever considered 30-second spots. The research used 11 different combinations of 12 ads on the same episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
One interesting part of ABC.com’s implementation is that unlike most other video sites, users must click through after ads conclude to continue watching a program. From my perspective, it’s unclear if this makes ads more or less effective (on the one hand, you have to look at the ad to click on it, but you can also walk away without missing the start of the next segment). But that wasn’t part of the study, to our knowledge.
ABC noted that it has not decided when to implement new ad models based on its research.
In related news, Disney-ABC made hundreds of layoffs today, but it’s not clear how they will affect digital initiatives.