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When to Skip: Improving Video Interstitial Ad Monetization

Posted Oct 4, 2016

While many mobile app publishers are turning toward opt-in ad experiences wherein users watch a video in exchange for an in-app reward, the need remains for video interstitial ad placements (also referred to as mid-roll video). Afterall, ads placed at natural breaks in content are a familiar experience that television has trained users to not only expect, but accept.

However, as mobile sessions often consist of countless in-between moments throughout a day, so there has been a temptation to allow users to skip ads to quickly get back to the content they are looking for. So what effect does enabling ad skippability have on ad revenue?

To answer that question, we analyzed over 2800 apps on our platform that have ad skippability enabled. Stratifying the apps by number of seconds that users must watch before an ad is skippable, the effect on completion rate is quite clear.



Simply, the earlier a user is able to skip an ad, the less likely they are to complete viewing the ad. As previous analysis has revealed, the most effective mobile ads are between 23 and 29 seconds in length. After all, it can take a bit of time to entice someone to engage. In the same respect, if an ad is skippable before it’s had a chance to pique the user’s interest, they are more apt to skip.

Ad placements that are skippable after 15 seconds are nearly twice as likely to be completed as ads skippable after just 5 seconds. Likewise, placements that aren’t skippable until 20 seconds are 2.5 times more likely to be completed.

So why does this matter for mobile publishers? As we’ve seen — and as our upcoming app install marketing survey of the top 100 advertisers will reaffirm — mobile advertisers are looking for outcomes, not partial impressions. This means that many advertisers pay publishers based on actions that are circumvented when an ad is skipped.

While our forthcoming Aurora™ SDK will introduce opportunities for advertisers to engage users during an ad and avoid many of the pitfalls of skippable placements, enabling ad skippability at too short of an interval still hinders publisher revenue potential.

In some cases, it can decimate eCPMs.

To avoid this while still allowing users to skip past ads, publishers can make a number of adjustments, including:

  • Ensure that the only video ads they run is crystal clear and buffer-free, as studies have shown users are most annoyed when content is poor quality or takes too long to load.
  • Enabling skippability only after 15 or 20 seconds, as this will generate a moderate completion rate between 41% and 58% while still maintaining an enjoyable user experience.
  • Adjusting timing of interstitial ad placements so that they appear only during natural breaks in the app’s content, thereby improving the user experience and decreasing the likelihood a user will skip the ad. After all, mid-roll interstitial video is more like a traditional television commercial than it is an interstitial display ad.
  • Working with advertising partners who offer interactive mobile video capabilities for advertisers to negate some of the revenue effects of skippable ads.

About the Data
Data for this study was pulled by the AdColony Growth team in conjunction with our Games Publishing team. Data covered over 2,800 apps for the month of September, 2016. As every app is different, publishers are encouraged to reach out to their account manager for an analysis of their integration settings with respect to skippability.

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