Ad loads down 40% since 2016 as media firms prioritise quality


Media company ad loads, or the number of ads in a typical ad break on TV, have fallen over he last seven years as premium video providers prioritise quality over quantity.

That’s according to a newly published report called The Delicate Art of Balancing Ad Load from FreeWheel, a global technology platform for the television advertising industry.

Now in its second year, this edition explores premium video ad load for the first half of 2022 in Europe.

Ad loads

The report found that media companies are redefining ad loads, noting that, since 2016, the number of ads included within an ad break has decreased, dipping from an average of approximately five to three.

The ad break duration has also decreased slightly, in particular for mid-form. Meanwhile, this measure typically spanned 52–90 seconds for long-form content; 42–83 seconds for mid-form content; and 18–27 seconds for short-form content.

Mid-roll breaks on smart televisions have the longest duration – at 126 seconds – and the greatest number of ads with an average of between five to six ads per break.

Pre-roll breaks on mobile devices run for the shortest duration at 30 seconds and consist of one or two ads per break on average.

VOD dominance

The report also found that premium long-form VOD accounts for the majority of ad views now.

European audiences view ads on a selection of screens and devices such as set-top-box VOD (30%), mobile (29%), CTV (26%), and desktop (15%).

Nearly eight in 10 ad views occur on premium VOD, with 68% of VOD ad views taking place within long-form content.

The report also found a significant uptick in ad views on live TV (20%), up from 10% in 2020.

Premium video impact

FreeWheel’s research also showed that premium video environments deliver impact.

In fact, long- and mid-form content achieved an impressive ad completion rate of 94%, while short-form content achieved a rate of 80%. (For comparison, a 70% completion rate is considered “good” for online video advertising.)

Additionally, fewer than one-quarter of viewing interruptions happen during the ad, meaning drop-offs mainly take place in the content instead.

FreeWheel Viewer Experience Lab goes global 

To enable broadcasters and premium video providers to better understand the effects of ad loads on the viewing experience, FreeWheel launched The Viewer Experience Lab in the U.S. in collaboration with MediaScience, a leading provider of lab-based audience research, back in June.

This industry initiative aims to help the TV advertising industry improve the ad environment for viewers across all video platforms. Addressing and improving current industry and viewer issues with ad load is one component.

Now, with the release of “The Delicate Art of Balancing Ad Load,” FreeWheel is taking The Viewer Experience Lab global, with the goal of improving the viewer experience and addressing the unique needs of advertising quality across platforms in the European market.

“As the television ad landscape continues to evolve and viewership habits shift, we need to prioritise and pay even more attention to protecting and ensuring a quality viewer experience, and ad load is a critical component of that,” said Mark McKee, General Manager, FreeWheel.

“As you can see from these report findings, consumers really value and appreciate a quality, premium ad environment, and we need to keep this in mind as we continue to innovate and drive the industry forward.”