XAPPmedia released a new edition of its ongoing study of streaming audio advertising, the Internet Radio Ad Load Report. In addition to updating data released in the first report, this edition (PDF here), which covers Q1 2015, is enhanced with new information about the streaming ad experience.
The headline points are these:
- More advertisers appeared in the Q1 testing;
- Fewer ads were presented, and the timed ad load was lower on average;
- The 30-second format was even more present than in the 2014 report.
The major enhancement of the Q1 report is a fifth streaming publisher added to the measurement stack. As with the earlier version, the streaming outlets are not named. Regarding that reporting tactic, the document says: “The intent is not to zero in on the ad serving strategies of any particular service, but instead to reveal the variety of approaches as well as industry-wide trends.”
Streaming audio presents a much less crowded advertising experience to listeners than broadcast radio, generally speaking, and that experiential advantage increased the XAPPmedia’s Q1 measurements. The average ad load per hour dropped from 2:44 in Q4 to 2:21 in Q1. the number of units also fell, from an average of 6.5 in Q4 to 5.2 in Q1.
To help explain the ad load reduction, XAPPmedia broke out monthly data from the quarterly summaries. Unsurprisingly, ad volume was up strongly in November and December, and down in January and February. That naturally cyclical trend accounts for some of the reduced load and unit numbers reflected in the report. Broader explanations that might point to a change in market health are beyond the scope of XAPPmedia’s research. “We cannot conclude for certain whether the ad load reduction was intentional or a driven by a softer advertising market,” the report stated.
Number of spots per hour also fell substantially quarter-over-quarter. The average number of ads (all lengths of creative) dropped 22% from Q4 to Q1. (That metric eliminated the fifth publishers added in Q1; figuring in all five outlets didn’t change the drop much.) Of the five months broken out across two quarters, February showed the lowest average number of spots (4.8).
A very interesting metrics from XAPPmedia in both reports is “TTFA” (Time To First Ad), which certainly affects the user experience in ad-supported Internet radio. That experience is especially underlined when compared to broadcast station webcasts, which, when simulcast, sometimes put the listener into the start of an eight-minute ad break, first thing. Again, user experience gained ground in Q1, as the average TTFA rose to 13:41, from 11 minutes in Q4.
XAPPmedia’s measurements showed an increase in advertiser participation, with the number of unique advertisers growing from 77 in Q4 to 118 in Q1. A total of 165 advertisers have been identified during the two-quarter testing period.