Advertising on videos is very much on the increase. The number of
campaigns using the medium has more than doubled over the past four
years, and the users read like a roll-call of blue-chip TV advertisers,
including Nestle Rowntree, Sony, Scottish Courage, Volkswagen and
In spite of this, the sector’s ad revenue for 1999 was probably less
than pounds 10m, which is roughly what TV takes in a day. When one looks
at pre-recorded videos’ viewing share, this figure is surprising (see
The average household watches pre-recorded videos for about 90 minutes a
week - two-thirds as much as their Channel 5 viewing and nearly three
times Sky One’s figure. Yet its advertising take is disproportionately
Perhaps one reason is that many advertisers do not regard video as a TV
channel, but as an offshoot of cinema.
Indeed, there are strong analogies between video and cinema in their
pattern of viewing, in the type of audience they attract and in the way
that audience is segmented.
In both media, and unlike TV, the audience to a particular film/tape is
spread over a significant time period, although the great bulk of
viewing takes place within a few weeks after its release.
Leading videos can achieve audiences in excess of four million, which is
not only greater than any cinema film, but also beats nearly all TV
programmes outside BBC1 and ITV.
On average, video viewers are markedly younger and more male-oriented
than TV viewers, but, like cinema films, videos produce segmented
audiences. The demographics of viewers for The Matrix, for example, are
predictably different from those for Notting Hill.
In multi-channel homes, terrestrial channels’ audience share fell
But pre-recorded videos’ share was the same in both multi-channel and
terrestrial households. As new channels proliferate and multi-channel
access grows, video’s strength in this area will become increasingly
But advertisers and agencies have a further doubt about video
advertising: by definition, videos are watched on tape, so ads can be
zipped through to reach the film. So there is a reasonable question as
to the extent that video ads are seen.
But analysis of Broadcast Audience Research Board (BARB) data by Media
Vision Research (MVR) suggests that this problem is not as serious as
might be imagined. On average, over 60% of advertising on a video is
watched, and the figure is even higher when the ads are tailored to fit
the audience profile the video will attract.
Perhaps advertisers should look more closely at the advantages of
One is sheer audience size. At a rough estimate, people spend ten times
as long watching pre-recorded videos as they do films in cinemas. Since
long-term advertising forecasts now tip cinema as one of the fastest
growing ad media of the next decade, it seems odd that pre-recorded
videos, which appear to share some of the perceived advantages of
cinema, should not also benefit.
A second plus for video is the ease with which its reach and efficiency
can be evaluated. This is quite exceptional for a tiny ad medium, and
only occurs because of the happy accident that BARB measures video
viewing in total, so its meters can recognise which individual video is
being watched through a unique encoding process operated by MVR.
In this way, an agency using MVR analyses of the BARB data can determine
exactly how much the addition of a video to a general TV campaign
increases cover in key demographic areas.
Given the penchant of light TV viewers to watch videos, case studies
show that the results from even quite small, carefully chosen video
additions can prove to be spectacular.
Pre-recorded video will probably never become a major ad medium, with
its revenue probably not even approaching that of cinema. In view of the
significant and growing opportunities it offers to advertisers, perhaps
it is rather more minor than it ought to be. But the recent increase in
the number of video campaigns suggests that more people are beginning to
recognise the possibilities. L
AVERAGE WEEKLY VIEWING (JANUARY TO DECEMBER 1999)
All Homes Cable/ Cable/
All Homes Share of Satellite Satellite Homes
Avg Hours Viewing Homes Avg Share of Viewing
(hh:mm) (%) Hrs(hh:mm) (%)
Pre-recorded video 1:23 3.3 1:35 3.3
Sky One 0:33 1.3 1:39 3.6
Sky Movies 0:10 0.4 0:31 1.1
Sky Moviemax 0:16 0.6 0:39 1.7
Sky News 0:10 0.4 0:29 1.0
Other Satellite/Cable 5:11 11.0 13:43 27.3
Total satellite/cable 5:33 13.2 17:33 34.7
BBC 1 11:26 26.4 9:30 19.6
BBC 2 4:27 10.4 3:24 6.6
ITV 12:31 28.9 11:28 22:8
Channel 4 4:32 10.0 3:26 6.9
Channel 5 2:28 5.0 1:35 3.5
Total terrestrial TV 34:35 80.7 29:29 59.4
Source: MVR VideoTrak MediaWatch January to December 1999