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No More Ad Holes Blog: Ad Hole Karma

Yuval Fisher - November 2nd 2022

“If you see an ad hole in the morning, you saw an ad hole. If you encounter ad holes all day long, you’re the ad hole (creator)!” 

– Paraphrased quote from an Elmore Leonard character 

If you’re new to the blog, or if you suffer from insomnia, you may benefit from reading previous installments describing what ad holes are and some of the ways they manifest in CTV viewing. In this installment, we’ll wax philosophical about things that are difficult to change but which, nevertheless, relate to ad slots that don’t get filled with ads – ad holes. 

Sometimes, who we are contributes to our experience, and so it is with CTV content. Content drives how users engage with it, and that, in turn, drives creation of at least some ad holes. We’ll first look at average session duration across a collection of US channels delivered to a number of CTV distribution platforms.

Tightening Up Your Ad Holes

Different channels have significantly different characteristics; some engage users to have long viewing sessions (such as marathon channels) and some do not. Unsurprisingly, channels with long viewing sessions have fewer ad holes, measured in the figure below using the use rate. Viewers of longer sessions are less likely to leave at any ad break they encounter, compared to viewers of short sessions, who leave after encountering fewer ad breaks. 

So the rate of abandonment of requested ads, which is a significant driver of use rate reduction, will be lower. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that some channels induce three times longer sessions than others! The trend of the use rate can vary up to 10% over this range, which is a significant differential when thought about as a change in revenue.

Use rate versus Average Session Duration
Channels with long viewing sessions have fewer ad holes.

What accounts for the change of use rate for a fixed average session duration? Many things, most of which are listed in previous installments of this blog

Is There A Perfect Ad Load To Minimize Ad Holes?

Next we look at ad load, which is the number of minutes per hour set aside for ads. One could expect content with higher ad load to lead to higher user abandonment rates – after all, people don’t like boring, uncreative ads – and we see in the figure below that this holds true.  Between 6-ish and 18-ish minutes per hour of ad load gives a trend of about 10% difference in use rate again. All other things being equal, content owners may be better off taking the bigger ad load and lower use rate, since without other data, this looks like it maximizes revenue. 

But all other things aren’t usually equal, so it’s worth reflecting on other metrics that ad load may drive, such as user churn and overall number of viewers. We see wider variation across channels with a fixed ad load, so that you can’t just fix all your problems by adjusting your ad load.

Use rate versus Ad Load
Content with a higher ad load can lead to higher user abandonment rates.

Fight Ad Holes With This Trick

What can we take away from this data? Content counts. 

Good content delivers more revenue through fewer ad holes, as does content that doesn’t annoy viewers with lots of ad breaks. However, there is a complex tradeoff between more ads and fewer ad holes. Wurl can’t control content, but since our revenue is based on our customer’s revenue, we have a commitment to increasing use rate and banishing ad holes whenever we can!

To learn more about how Wurl can help you increase your use rates, read the other posts in our No More Ad Holes blog series below and/or contact your Wurl account representative. 

No More Ad Holes Blog Series

Blog 1: Bad VAST Response
Blog 2: Changing Ad ID and Ad Transcoding Issues
Blog 3: It’s Not All Bad News – Some Ad Holes Aren’t Real!
Blog 4: When the Ad Holes are Your Own Darn Fault
Blog 5: Timeouts
Blog 6: Zombies! (Really!)
Blog 7: The Trouble with Beacons