1 in 6 Viewers Click Away During Pre-rolls

One of the maxims of online video is that everyone hate pre-roll ads, but just how much, exactly? So much that one out of every six users abandons a video stream before a pre-roll advertisement ends and the actual video begins, according to new research from video analytics firm TubeMogul.

The company took a look at how viewers interacted with more than 1.8 million video streams over a 48-hour period, and found that about 16 percent of them clicked away rather than watch a pre-roll ad. The report took a look at 10- and 30-second-long pre-roll ads that ran against short-form content, typically videos that are 3-10 minutes long. The ads shown were served from a wide range of video ad networks, including AdTech, BBE, Google (s goog) and Tremor Media.

User behavior differed depending on the type of content that was being served up. Users were more patient when waiting for content from large broadcasters, with about 11 percent clicking away during ads. However, users were much more likely to abandon videos served on newspaper and magazine publisher web sites, clicking away nearly 25 percent of the time.

One thing the research didn’t take into account was how different length pre-rolls performed against different lengths of short-form video. For instance, do users have a higher tolerance for a 30-second pre-roll against a 10-minute video, as opposed to a 10-second pre-roll that runs against a 3-minute video?

The report did note, however, that publishers and advertisers need to determine the definition of an “impression” or a “view” for videos that have pre-roll ads run against them based on whether viewers actually watched the entire ad. Logging an impression at the beginning of a pre-roll leaves open the possibility that users could have clicked away before the ad finished.

This is the latest in a string of research reports that TubeMogul has issued about user response to different conditions while watching online video. The company previously reported that 81 percent of all online video viewers click away if they encounter a video clip buffering during the stream.

Related content on GigaOM Pro (subscription required): Why 2010 Still Won’t Be the Year of Mobile Advertising