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According to research conducted by American television network ABC and Nielsen Media Research, web video viewers aren't all that put off by the addition of multiple ads to each 'commercial break'.

With that, ABC looks poised to do something it has talked about the need for: boosting the amount of advertising shown with its online videos to bring online revenue in line with television revenue.

AdAge notes that the one-sponsor-per-break standard, coupled with the standard disabling of the fast-forward button, has enabled companies like ABC to charge more per thousand views online since ad recall is typically higher. However,  because there just aren't as many ads being shown, online lags television when it comes to revenue per viewer. For obvious reasons, ABC and other content producers would like to change that.

According to Albert Cheng, EVP of Digital Media at DATG:

This presents an interesting opportunity for advertisers to really look at efficiencies and how we're managing our inventory. We can actually increase deliver, reach and frequency by looking at a model that will have more sponsors and more ads.

The ABC/Nielsen research found that the use of multiple ads per break had only "a minimal effect" on recall and that doubling ads shown from 4 to 8 "did not affect the viewers' overall experience with the ABC.com player."

Sounds good for video content producers, right? Not so fast. I'm skeptical.

A 2006 survey conducted by the BurstMedia ad network found that 77.5% of those surveyed believed ads in online video to be intrusive. Only one in four paid more attention to the video ads than the surrounding standard ad units and a disturbingly-high 27.9% said that once they see a video ad, "they immediately leave the website."

So which research to trust?

The fact that internet users don't like ads is well-established and it's logical. That, of course, doesn't mean that they don't tolerate them out of necessity. While content producers like ABC do have a lot of control over how their content is distributed online, leaving online viewers with little choice but to watch ads if they want to access the content, I'm not so sure that the ABCs of the world should delude themselves into believing that they can double the number of ads they show with each piece of video content and not see some impact on viewership.

I'm all for finding ways to boost revenue but any content producer thinking that showing more ads is the way to do it should probably tread very carefully.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 January, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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