NEW YORK: The increasing importance of original digital video for advertisers has been reinforced by a new survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), showing that the format is almost as popular as primetime TV for US viewers.

The internet trade body's 2014 Original Digital Video Study suggested that 52m adult Americans now watch online video at least once a month, a rise of 15% since 2013, and they prefer original digital programming to news, sports and daytime TV.

The study, conducted by market research firm GfK in March and April 2014, covered 2,300 US adults aged 18 and over, including full interviews with just over 1,000 of them.

Respondents cited flexibility, mobility and innovative, edgy, content as key reasons for their adoption of the new medium.

More than half said their viewing each month is unplanned, compared with about one-quarter of those who watch TV online and primetime TV, while 41% said flexibility tipped them in favour of digital over traditional TV programmes.

Also, the number of Americans using their mobile devices to watch digital videos has nearly doubled since this time last year – smartphones account for 46% and tablets for 41% of this viewing time.

Furthermore, nearly half (48%) use internet-connected TVs to watch original digital video, a figure that has also nearly doubled since the same period a year ago.

"This study underscores the importance of this innovative medium to advertisers who demand the kind of reach and engagement that 'made for digital' content delivers," said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO at the IAB.

Sherrill Mane, senior vice president of research, analytics and measurement at IAB, added that this level of consumer enthusiasm should translate into increased advertising revenue.

"There are distinct differences between original video content on digital versus traditional television," she said.

"This research will help marketers and agencies better understand how to approach original digital programming ad opportunities to reap their many rewards."

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff