Display ads may have a reputation for being ignored, but not all digital ads are created equal. According to a new study from Nielsen, online video ads are actually more effective than TV ads.

Considering that online video ads also cannot be skipped, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than traditional TV ads. In fact, often, they’re exactly the same.

Online video ads have a 65% general recall compared to 46% for TV ads. Brand recall online is also higher — 50%
compared to TV’s 28%. Message online recall is 39% compared to TV’s 21%. Likability is at 26% online, compared to TV’s 14%.

Dave Kaplan, Nielsen’s senior VP of product leadership,
and Beth Uyenco, director of global research at Microsoft, evaluated 238 brands and 412 products in 951 ad executions in
streaming full-episode TV programs to get to their findings. In the process, more than 14,000
surveys were conducted.

Consistently, online ads had more impact on consumers.

This is for two reasons — and one has less to do with the digital medium than brand control. Namely, online there is both less ad clutter and forced ad viewing. Video programming has fewer ads per show than on TV. But perhaps more importantly, people watching online video are being retrained to sit through the commercial break. Consumers who happily fast forward through commercials on television are watching video online either out of necessity or preference. And there they have to watch more ads.

Digital videos usually carry an ad load of 4 minutes per hour of progamming versus 10 minutes of
national ads for traditional TV (15 minutes after
including local ads and promos). But people are actually watching those ads, which is why digital video is becoming a better way for brands to reach people.

And for all of the work that brands are putting into tailoring their content for the digital space, the most effective ads online were simply TV ads aired in a digital viewer. According to Kaplan:

“Advertisers might be able to save money by utilizing those ads already
in the hopper. Even when controlling for exposure, we see that
repurposed TV spots resonate quite well in the streaming full-episode
environment.”

The ad load for online programming is likely to grow soon, especially as both television channels and advertisers try to increase their digital revenues. But the fact that viewers are skipping the same commercials on TV that they’re being forced to watch online means that they would rather be avoiding the ads they’re currently interacting with. Brands will surely squeeze as many dollars out of forced commercials in digital video as they can. But this is clearly not a longterm solution to dwindling television ad dollars.

Image: Hulu