NEW YORK: Brands running ads in long-form online content may secure better results by using "limited-interruption" models rather than replicating the "cluttered" approach typically favoured on TV, according to a new study.

In the fall issue of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR), a group of authors whose analog presence stretches from New Jersey to Texas to South Australia study the placement of streaming messages in online content from various broadcast and cable networks, using a test sample of 139 viewers.

More specifically, the paper entitled "Limited-Interruption Advertising in Digital-Video Content: An Analysis Compares the Effects of 'Mid-roll' versus 'Pre-roll' Spots and Clutter Advertising" analysed a variety of online ad-placement models in a selection of shows from the four major broadcast networks, plus content from Discovery and Turner.

As the study notes, "Digital video is growing rapidly, offering new opportunities and formats for television advertising". But, with rapid growth comes uncertainty, and a rush to online formats that are yet to be fully tested in the digital marketplace.

For spots of the same 30-second duration, the analysis found, "Limited-interruption advertising in digital video – with four mid-roll commercial breaks per hour – delivers greater advertising effectiveness, measured by branded advertising recall, than pre-roll advertising".

But the JAR paper also proposes that the length of the commercial may be critical in determining its effectiveness among the watching audience.

Specifically, the authors' research points to the conclusion that, "Shorter (15-second) pre-roll advertisements were just as effective as mid-roll ads, most likely because their short duration prevents disengagement and advertising avoidance similar to the way shorter limited-interruption breaks do compared to longer commercial breaks".

The JAR work offers evidence that both 30- and 15-second spots in pre-roll and mid-roll placements were more engaging than the normal "clutter" advertising that is the legacy of traditional broadcast media, too.

"Limited-interruption and pre-roll advertising are more effective than normal 'clutter' advertising" – offerings that typically involve "six breaks, with five spots in each break."

The authors of the study were Jean Brechman (The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township, New Jersey), Steven Bellman (Ehrenberg- Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia/Adelaide), Jennifer A. Robinson (RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia), in association with Amy Rask and Duane Varanthe, of Austin-based MediaScience.

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff