Video Essentials

When Videos Are Free, People Don’t Mind the Ads, Finds Limelight

Want to show online video ads to a receptive audience? Pair them with free premium content.

The CDN Limelight released its biannual State of Online Video report, and found that viewers are more accepting of ads on free content. While 71 percent of those surveyed said they find online video ads disruptive, 75 percent said they were okay with ads if there’s an option to skip them. If watching ads means the viewer doesn’t have to pay for the content, 59 percent are okay with them. Only 31 percent agreed that ads were okay as long they were for products the viewer was interested in.

Millennials (age 18 to 35) are more accepting of online video ads than other age groups. For millennials, 67 percent are okay with watching video ads if it means they don’t have to pay for the content.

“Costs are always a key consideration. Why?” asks Dan Carney, Limelight’s senior vice president of operations. “Because consumers are increasingly accepting of advertising in online videos, especially if it means free content.  While 71 percent of people said online ads are disruptive, 60 percent say it’s fine as long as the content they’re watching is free. And millennials are even more tolerant of advertising in exchange for free content.

Limelight’s report is a useful overview of where the online video industry is now. Men stream more video than women: 58 percent of men watch two or more hours per week, while only 45 percent of women do the same. Millennials (age 18 to 35) watch more than other age groups, with 16 percent streaming over 10 hours each week.

In this new golden age of television, TV shows are the most popular choice for video streaming, followed by original content (such as YouTube videos), movies, and news clips. Over-the-top services have entered the mass adoption phase, with 60 percent of online viewers subscribing to one or more subscription video-on-demand services. Additionally, 26 percent subscribe to two or more services.

Streaming 4K and virtual reality video will have to wait, because publishers are still having trouble serving regular video. Video buffering is far and away the biggest frustration for viewers. That’s followed by poor quality video (content that’s blurry or hard to see), the lack of device support, and long startup times.

Limelight’s findings come from a third-party survey of 1,779 U.S. and U.K. consumers who watch online videos weekly. Stats have a margin of error of 3.1 percent. Download the full report for free (no registration required).


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  1. Interesting comments…especially vis-a-vis last year’s headline…

    The numbers haven’t changed but your headline somehow suggests that online adverts are tolerated or even “more tolerated” as opposed to the past… that’s just not true. Y’all are just not getting the message!

    More than 7 out of 10 people STILL overall agree that online ads are “disruptive.” Further, 95% of the people STILL disagree that ads are somehow “okay as long as they can skip them” That is a VERY clear message. Even 4 out of 10 STILL cannot agree that ads are okay just because they get free content. Those numbers are staggering! You are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

    Today’s Admen may be the railroad conductors of yesteryear. It is apparent that the market is increasingly intolerant and cannot willingly support these featherbedded middlemen, who in a never ending flash of screen effects, glitter, and annoying (and often blinking) magic dust BS merely add cost. It’s not even adding value and is often ignored or worse– it angers the consumer. Much of today’s “barkering” is a practice still anchored in the medium-starved environment of the mid 1950’s.

    A new and more efficient model between producer and consumer is needed. The end user must ultimately buy content from the pipe or producer in order to pay for their individual a la carte selections of content and delivery. Billing can still be bundled. Why add so many uninvited and unjustified promotion costs as overhead? Today, end users can easily find their own way to the products they want, and do it when they need them. Adverts are simply taking up webpage space and over saturating the consumer at every turn.

    The cable companies originally promised ad-free delivery, but lost their way. Give me a la carte channels without ads please. I’ll pay the freight–but it’s MY freight!

    Stop trying to sell yesterdays beef. Clearly something has to change. It’s time to change the model, retool the skills, and eliminate the waste.

    Posted by R Searl | December 20, 2016, 3:12 pm
  2. WE HATE THE ADS! Who are they kidding?

    Posted by Gene Massey | December 27, 2016, 10:59 am
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