By Sahil Patel
Made-for-web programming certainly has its place, and will continue to do so for as long as people have connected devices and time to spare. But at least right now, in terms of where the ad industry is when it comes to the web, it’s still television’s world.
According to the latest quarterly Monetization Report from video ad tech company FreeWheel*, ad views on long-form content (20+ minutes; consisting largely of linear episodes, feature films, and live events) grew by 86% year over year. This beats out mid-form content (5–20 minutes) and short-form content (0–5 minutes), with those formats witnessing a 13% and 22% increase in ad views, respectively.
Granted, it certainly helps that long-form content generally offers a TV-like ad experience, with mid-rolls to separate different acts of a TV show, movie, or event. But that’s exactly it, by mimicking what TV already provides, long-form content experiences are more likely to garner advertiser interest.
(One argument against this could be that long-form content offers more inventory than short-form, which obviously would lead to greater ad numbers. That said, there are way more short- and mid-length videos out on the web.)
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Mid-form content, which FreeWheel frames as the format in which most web series exist, saw a huge spike from Q3 2013 to Q4 2013. In Q3, year-over-year ad-view growth was at 1%, far below the 13% mid-form content saw in Q4.
FreeWheel’s report also breaks down some data by MVPDs/TV programmers and “Digital Pure-Plays,” which are the networks and content providers that distribute made-for-web clips. When looking at ad views by duration within the DPP category, FreeWheel found that short-form (which FreeWheel frames as general video clips, music videos, and other made-for-web content) accounted for a significant share at 79%. However, Q4 2013 also marked the first time content longer than five minutes accounted for more than 20% of DPP ad views.
* FreeWheel works with many of the TV networks and online video platforms you know of, so the company has a pretty fair idea of where the ad industry is.