The great ad skip: ‘Excessive’ video-on-demand advertising a turn-off for consumers

Brands risk damage by frustrating online users with ‘intrusive’ approach, warns Core

Advertising on video-on-demand platforms is either skipped or tends to  annoy users, marketing group Core has found.

Advertising on video-on-demand platforms is either skipped or tends to annoy users, marketing group Core has found.


Brands that bombard video-on-demand (VOD) users with “excessive”, poorly targeted and overlong advertisements are damaging their own reputations through the practice, according to Core, Ireland’s largest ad-buying group.

Research by the company found that three-quarters of online video ads are skipped when the consumer is given an option, while almost six in 10 people have a negative perception of brands when they are unable to skip their video ads.

Some 60 per cent of viewers believe there is too much VOD advertising, while the majority are frustrated by seeing the same ad again, according to its research, which included a survey of 1,000 people, the holding of eight focus groups and an analysis of 300 million online video impressions.

Google-owned YouTube sells both skippable and unskippable ads to advertisers, but broadcasters’ on-demand apps typically don’t allow viewers to skip. This turns users into a captive audience – often for several consecutive ads – before they can watch their chosen programme.

A key part of the problem is that more than half of VOD ads are television ads “regurgitated” for online, often in the same 30-second format.

But while viewers can either wander away from a traditional television set or forward through the ad breaks on recorded programmes, the same ad played online – often on a handheld device – will seem much more intrusive.

Missed messages

People who skip ads when possible tend to do so quickly, with four-fifths doing so in less than 20 seconds and younger viewers unlikely to exceed 10 seconds, the research found. If TV ads are rehashed in a skippable online ad, the viewer will likely miss the main call-to-action unless it is placed upfront.

Core is recommending a maximum of 10 seconds for ads accompanying short-form content (less than 15 minutes) and a maximum of 20 seconds for ads on longer-form content.

More than half of consumers were more positive about advertising when they are told how long the ad will be, which Core said indicated that viewers understood some advertising was necessary to pay for the media they consume.

Core’s head of video, Ellen Kelliher, said VOD advertising was “at a junction” and could go one of two ways: there could be further growth in the volume of ads, increasing viewer frustration “and ultimately brand damage”, or the industry could take a more pragmatic approach that would not annoy its savvy audience.

“People aren’t as loyal as the may have been in the past,” she said. “Advertisers have to work harder and smarter to ensure they engage with their audiences in a meaningful way.”