A new report by AOL Inc. identifies just how many Canadians are watching online video – including their smartphones – and how well the country’s advertising industry is adapting to its new audience.

According to the Internet service provider turned mobile and online media advertising firm’s latest annual State of Industry Video report, 43 per cent of Canadians now watch online videos on their smartphones every day, while 54 per cent watch using a laptop or desktop. Across all devices, 70 per cent of Canadians watch online videos every day.

More importantly for advertisers, they’re watching more online video content than ever before – 41 per cent of watch more than four hours of online video a week, AOL’s report found, 56 per cent of survey respondents said they consume more online content today than a year ago, and nearly half said they expect to watch more full-length TV shows (46 per cent) and full-length movies (41 per cent) online this year than in 2016.

When asked why they preferred watching content online rather than through a service provider, 68 per cent of respondents cited the flexibility to start or stop a program whenever they wanted, while 58 per cent cited fewer commercials 53 per cent said it provided access to more content.

Even when pre-recorded content was removed from the equation, however, AOL found that 47 per cent of Canadians watch live content online at least once a week, with “breaking news” and “sporting events” cited as the top two categories, by 56 per cent and 34 per cent of respondents, respectively.

And advertisers are taking notice

All of this will be welcome news to Canadian advertisers, 70 per cent of whom said they believe digital video is the future, 54 per cent of whom were shifting their TV budgets to mobile video, AOL found, and 36 per cent of whom expect their clients’ mobile ad spending to go up by at least 25 per cent, AOL found.

They’ll also be happy to know that 55 per cent of survey respondents said they don’t mind watching ads before online videos if they are entertaining, and that 47 per cent don’t mind if they include a product/service relevant to the viewer.

When asked what they considered the digital video advertising industry’s primary growth drivers, 49 per cent of respondents said it would be “better targeting and personalization of video ads, while 45 per cent said “better quality creative” and 43 per cent said “social media video offerings on Facebook, Snapchat, etc.

On the other side of the equation, advertisers believed the most significant obstacles to the digital video advertising industry’s growth over the next year would be “an abundance of platforms to adapt to” (26 oer cent), “network traffic/audience” (25 per cent) and ad blocking (22 per cent).

It’s also worth noting that 22 per cent of respondents said they would stop watching an online video if faced with a buffering interruption, and 34 per cent said they would give up after two. AOL also noted that in an attempt to address this, 47 per cent of Canadian publishers are exploring ways they reduce load times for video ads on mobile devices.

When it comes to the types of videos advertisers are working on, videos that run under one minute and “in-app video ads that increase interactivity and engagement” were viewed as the largest mobile video opportunities, by 48 per cent and 38 per cent of advertisers, respectively.

However, 74 per cent of survey respondents said they expect an ad to run 15 seconds or less if playing before an online video that runs for less than a minute.

Finally, AOL noted that advertisers are currently devoting 45 per cent of their digital video budget to automated programmatic advertising, and that 60 per cent expect their company or client’s spending on programmatic video to increase by up to 50 per cent over the next year.

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