The power of video is all in the timing

Video advertising infographic 1

Consumers’ viewing habits on mobile devices are changing as they watch ads increasingly during prime time and weekends. Advertisers will need to adapt their offering to achieve the click-through rates they want.

People in the UK are more likely to click on pre-roll video advertising on their tablets or mobile phones than on laptops and desktop computers, according to new research by advertising software company TubeMogul.

The study finds that for laptops and desktop computers, the click-through rate is 1.3 per cent but rises to 1.5 per cent for tablets and smartphones. However, the UK lags behind the US in watching ads where the mobile click-through rate is 4.9 per cent; Singapore has the highest rate at 7.6 per cent for mobile devices.

“More people are using tablets as their primary vehicle for casual window shopping. They seem more willing to look at and engage with a product on a mobile device,” says TubeMogul’s senior director of global communications David Burch.

The willingness to click on advertising in Singapore, for example, shows how ingrained the devices are in people’s lives, he adds.

“In Singapore, there are many people who are willing to click on mobile ads, which shows how mainstream the devices are there and how they use them. People are already shopping on these devices, so it’s natural for them to explore more.

“The way people browse on mobile devices tends to be more casual and less distracting than on a computer, where you can go onto another window and read something while the ad plays. With a mobile device you’re captive there.”

Video advertising infographic 2

Tablet viewing in the UK peaks during prime-time evening hours, according to the study. “People are taking to their tablets after hours and the biggest surprise is how robust that is,” says Burch.

“[Tablet] viewing has become a prime time phenomenon, supplanting TV for many people. It’s one of the many challenges advertisers face, in a world where we have multiple screens in our lives.”

Over a third (33.6 per cent) of the day’s tablet video ad views happen between 8pm and midnight in the UK. Android tablet video views peak in the morning between 8am and 9am, finds the research.

The study points to a similar pattern on mobile phones, with ad views on Android and iPhone peaking after 7pm.

“People are watching their phones during prime time as well, at heavier rates than at any other time during the day,” says Burch.

Online retailer’s latest mobile video campaign achieved an 80 per cent completion rate

“You don’t see that as much in the United States. It’s a situation where the UK viewer is taking to mobile more than American viewers.”

Mobile video views (both handsets and tablets combined) peak between 9pm and 11pm and account for 21 per cent of the day’s views.

The research also indicates that the majority of mobile video ads – on tablet and mobile – are watched over the weekend, regardless of device type, with Saturday and Sunday accounting for just under a third (32 per cent) of the week’s views.

Meanwhile, mid-week views are much lower, at 13 per cent on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“It appears that consumption on weekends is heavier on both Android and Apple devices and tapers off during the week. It’s another situation where people are watching when they are relaxed at home,” says Burch.

A third of video ads are watched on tablets over the weekend – 15 per cent on Saturdays and 18 per cent Sundays. This drops to 11 per cent on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Regarding viewing per population, daily mobile video ad views are 2 million for the UK, compared to 31 million for the US and 0.1 million for Singapore, with the proportion highest for the US at 9.8 per cent, followed by 3.1 per cent in the UK and 1.9 per cent in Singapore.

These figures pose increasing challenges for advertisers that are used to reaching the majority of their target demographic during prime time on TV, claims Burch. “This shows how difficult life is for brands. They have to be relevant on a tablet and on a phone – on all these devices.”

UK completion rates, or the number of people who watch an ad from start to finish, stand at 56 per cent on smartphones and tablets – one of the highest rates of all the countries surveyed. Completion is 53 per cent in the US, 47 per cent in Singapore and 34 per cent in Australia. Only Canada is higher at 64 per cent.

“Viewers in the UK are among the most willing to watch an ad in a mobile setting. They are a little less fickle than Americans and a lot less fickle than Australians,” says Burch.

The type of content that an ad measured by TubeMogul might appear with include magazine apps containing videos with tips from fashion designers. “The user can, for example, either watch the ad, read another article or quit the app,” says Burch.

For watching via desktop or laptop computers, UK ad completion rates are at 76 per cent.

“[Mobile completion rates] are lower than you would see on a computer or desktop,” confirms Burch. “Whenever there’s a new medium and ads start appearing on it, people are always sceptical. There’s a level of cynicism – ‘oh, I have to watch ads here too’.”

Another factor potentially affecting ad completion rates on mobile devices is buffering where, because of a user’s coverage, an ad does not stream quickly enough. “If all of a sudden halfway through the ad you see the spinning wheel of death, you’re much more likely to ditch it,” says Burch.

The changes in engagement with mobile video ads give brand marketers the opportunity for brand marketers to reach consumers in ways not possible via traditional devices. With data showing viewers are mostly engaged during prime time and on weekends, targeting opportunities are even greater.

Marketers can blend branding with the accessibility of a global market and a connection with consumers that is right in the palm of their hand.


US advertising software company TubeMogul helps media and advertising agencies buy video advertising in a range of formats and on a range of devices. The research data is taken from brand campaigns run through TubeMogul’s media buying platform in the third quarter of 2013, spanning millions of mobile pre-roll video ad views. The sample size is 1,852,496 unique viewers, reflecting an entire campaign’s lifecycle, which typically lasts three to six months.

Marketers’ response


John Bache
Head of customer communications

Improvements in streaming and handset and tablet technology has meant mobile devices are increasingly becoming a part of everyday life. You can do so much more on a mobile device now than 12 months ago. With more and better quality content to view, the opportunity for targeted pre-rolls increases. The fact that people are choosing to view video content out of office hours tallies with the increase in completion and click-through rates. With a high ticket, emotional decision like a car purchase, video enables us to showcase our products in a way brochures and web imagery cannot. We try to produce quality product-related content and get it in front of engaged consumers. Video pre-rolls are beginning to form a larger part of all our marketing plans that Havas Media help us create.



Suranga Chandratillake
Blinkx (video search engine)

We find that on smartphones, viewing is fairly dispersed during the day, but tablets definitely peak at prime time, breakfast time, and weekends. There is a big difference in the type of content seen on smartphones – during the week, it’s more informational, but at the weekend it’s more entertainment. Tablet video viewing is about home activity – you watch it when you would watch TV. But smartphones are with you all the time and you dip in and out more. Our completion rates are higher in the UK than the US. It’s a newer format in the UK and as with any kind of ad format, it’s best when it’s brand new. Completion rates generally are higher compared to online video ads. Even if mobile completion rates drop, it will still be more interesting than other formats.

Case Study:

Online fashion and homeware retailer Very is embracing mobile advertising.

[Mobile video] performs very well for us, through many of the campaigns that we run on YouTube and wider broadcast and network video on demand,” says head of brand and advertising Paul Ray. “This is a really exciting space and an important category where we’re putting a lot of effort.”

Whereas mobile devices are sometimes grouped together for measurement purposes, Ray says he sees marked differences in usage between smartphones and tablets.

“We see ’snacking’ and usage throughout the day on mobiles and smartphones. The vast majority of traffic is in the mornings on the commute to work and during mid-morning breaks.

”With tablets we see ‘lean back behaviour’ – sitting comfortably in your chair, leaning back, engaging with video content in particular, but also entertainment-orientated content during prime time and at weekends.”

Ray also points to the rise in ‘second screening’ – the use of other screens, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets while watching TV.

“X Factor has seen great success this year with its second screen app and its voting mechanic. A lot of people are watching the TV show, while engaging with that show’s further content on their tablet.”
The brand’s latest ad campaign for its Definitions range reached completion rate highs of more than 80 per cent, Ray claims.



Blinkbox calls for audio, mobile ad standardisation

Russell Parsons

Tesco-owned Blinkbox Music aims to put mobile and audio at the core of its proposition to encourage consumers to purchase items across its array of multi-channel outlets, including ecommerce and in-store sales, as it aims to lead moves to standardise such ad formats. 


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