Engagement Is Key for Rich Media Video Ads

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When it comes to rich media ads on the Internet that employ video, engagement matters enormously. Environment, not so much.

That’s the major and in some ways surprising take-away from a new study conducted by VideoEgg and comScore.

The study examined the effectiveness of rich media video ads vs. traditional banners. The goal was to prove the theory that banner ads containing video are more engaging. In addition, the study gauged whether site environment — particularly contextual relevance — played a role in how well such ads performed.
Overall, video ads proved to be more engaging — and engaging ads move the sales needle better than standard ads, the study found. (It was no surprise that VideoEgg’s AdFrame units — expandable placements that take over portions of Web pages — were roughly twice as effective as standard IAB banners at driving awareness.)

More eye-opening was the study’s finding on the importance of environment, or lack thereof. While users responded to branded sites more favorably, ads on those venues were no more engaging than they were on non-contextually relevant sites, the study found.

“There was not a significant difference in performance across environments,” said VideoEgg president Troy Young. “There is a relationship between environment and ad for some brands, but a great ad transcends environment.”

That could rile up some big brand publishers that earn their living by selling the importance of context. And many won’t appreciate the fact that the study was commissioned by VideoEgg, itself a leading ad network.

“What we saw was the overwhelming power of engagement to change metrics,” said Young. “The take-away here is: If you want your propaganda to work, get people to engage with it.”

But Young said the study proves context isn’t always worth paying extra for: “The implication here is, for a lot of media plans, premium environments may not be worth a three-times or five-times premium price.”

The companies surveyed the opinions of 14,000 Web users, who were presented with ad campaigns of various types on Web sites from six top brands: Doritos, GE, Hyundai, Telus, Toshiba and Alliance Releasing.

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