Online video advertising peaks during prime time

Viewers more likely to engage, remember and like brands between 8 P.M. and midnight

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 16, 2013
Short URL:

It is weird to think that there was actually a time when I couldn't go onto YouTube to find a clips of my favorite shows from the 90s, when I couldn't sit down and stream episodes of the West Wing on Netflix or when I couldn't catch that episode of Community I missed on Hulu the next day. In fact, more often than not, if I am home at night I will be watching a video on my computer, rather than watching something on TV (maybe I'd feel differently if they showed something besides endless repeats of the Big Bang Theory!).

And that behavior is becoming typical for many people, according a report from video ad startup TubeMogul.

Using data complied "from top brand campaigns run through TubeMogul’s media buying platform" last quarter, which spanned hundreds of millions of impressions across standard pre-roll video ads, the site has been able to determine when online videos as should be run in order to maximize their performance.

Turns out, prime time for online video is exactly the same as it for television: between the hours of 8 P.M. and midnight. Not only is that the time that most people seem to be watching videos but, more importantly, it is also the time that viewers are the most receptive to brand advertising. 

There are a greater amount of pre-roll impressions that take place between 8 P.M. and midnight than any other four-hour block of the day, TubeMogul found, with 17.4 of the day's volume. Daily ad impressions peaked at 11 P.M. with 4.5% of the day’s views.  

Engagement rates for interactive pre-roll advertisments, the kind that invite viewers to do something within an ad, like click to see local showtimes on a movie trailer, were 1.3% during primetime. That may not seem very high, but the only time that the engagement rates are higher is during lunchtime, when they go up to 1.4%. 

There is more to an ad than just engagement rate, though. It is also important that people who view an actually remember it, and that they get a good impression of the brand from that ad, so they will go buy the product later.

Viewers exposed to an online video ad between 8 P.M. and midnight remembered the brand's message more than twice as much as those who did not, 6.6% compared to 3.0%. Viewing the ad also led to a big increase of more than three times in brand favorability, with 6.9% of those who saw the ad having a high opinion of the brand, versus only 2.1% who did not. And, of course, that leads to a slightly higher purchase intent as well, 1.9% up from 1.7%.

Interestingly, the quality of the website where someone views an ad seems to have little impact on how effective they are, with awareness and message association basically the same on the top sites as it is on all other sites. Site quality does impact brand favorability though, as if viewers see brands that advertise on lower quality sites as less desirable. 

I wonder if, through all the years we have spent watching prime time television if our brains are just wired to be more receptive during those times. Or, maybe, it is just as simple as most people don't really have time to watch advertisements at work. Either way, this data might portend a big advertising push for online video during those hours.

(Image source:

Related news