Study reveals strength of mobile video ads

New research from respected marketing science academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field has uncovered new insights into how and why video advertising works for brands when viewed on mobile devices.

The ‘mobile edition’ of Professor Nelson-Field’s ongoing Benchmark Series, commissioned by Australian commercial TV advisory resource ThinkTV, makes a number of significant findings that are designed to help advertisers and their agencies get the best out of video advertising.

Professor Nelson-Field used bespoke AI machine-learning technology and eye-tracking software to minimise human bias in her team’s data gathering.

The latest tranche of the Benchmark Series seeks to compare the sales impact and attention generated by video advertising viewed on mobile devices on Facebook, YouTube, and TV (over Broadcaster Video-On-Demand services).

It found that:

1. Advertisements viewed on mobile devices by consumers of Facebook, YouTube and Broadcaster Video-On-Demand (BVoD) all generated a positive sales impact for brands.
2. On mobile devices the sales impact of BVoD is 33 per cent higher than Facebook and 17.5 per cent higher than YouTube.
3. The sales impact of TV outperforms Facebook and YouTube irrespective of screen.

Key findings:

Sales Impact

Using the well-established metric of short-term advertising strength or STAS (Short-Term Advertising Strength) to measure the impact an advertisement has on sales, the research found that BVoD on mobile devices performed 17.5 per cent stronger than YouTube and 33 per cent stronger than Facebook.


The same pattern carried for attention, which Professor Nelson-Field scored out of 100 based on the results of eye-tracking measurements. On an aggregate of these measures, BVoD scored 63 points out of 100. That was 9 points higher than Facebook, which scored 54, and 19 points higher than YouTube, which scored 44.

TV wins on every measure

Professor Nelson-Field found that the sales impact of TV outperformed YouTube and Facebook irrespective of screen. So TV, whether viewed on a TV screen, computer or mobile device, delivered a significantly stronger result than both Facebook and YouTube on those platforms’ best performing screen, mobile.

Screen Coverage

The study found that screen coverage (the percentage of a screen occupied by an ad) was highly correlated to attention and sales, in line with previous findings from the Benchmark Series. On this measure, TV, at 100 per cent screen coverage, provided almost four times more screen coverage than Facebook and three times more screen coverage than YouTube, which Professor Nelson-Field identified as one of the key reasons for TV’s ability to have the most impact on sales.


Professor Nelson-Field explained that because mobile screens tend to be held closer to the viewer’s eyes their peripheral vision adjusts to the screen proximity, which means that passive viewing on mobile is worth more to sales than passive viewing on other devices. (N.B. Professor Nelson-Field did not investigate other factors in advertising success such as the impact of reach and reach velocity.)
“In the first tranche of the Benchmark Series when we measured YouTube, Facebook and TV on PC, as well as TV on the TV set, we could clearly see why certain platforms drive higher levels of attention and greater levels of advertising impact than others,” explained Nelson-Field. “And in simple terms this is about visibility.”

“Now with mobile devices increasing in importance for video viewing, we can see that ALL platforms benefit from the lean-in viewing experience. Of course, as we predicted, those with better inherent ad visibility still benefit more.”

“This study takes the Benchmark Series a stage further; digging into the fast-growing world of mobile,” noted Kim Portrate, Chief Executive of ThinkTV. “It proves video advertising on mobile screens works on all of these major platforms – as more people lean in to their content choices – but it also shows that not all media is equal on mobile.”

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