Over the past decade, the importance of online video has grown exponentially. Many consumers have "cut the cord" by cancelling their cable TV packages and watching online content exclusively. This also means that a lot of people see video ads while they watch online content. A recent study from YuMe has data on online ads viewing habits that can help marketers create better online ad campaigns.

With many online video platforms, video ads can be placed at different points in the playback of the main video. The majority of these ads are played "pre-roll" or before the video begins. Others are played during a break in the main video (i.e. mid-roll ads) or at the end of the video (outstream ads).

The new study from YuMe and IPG Labs shows that the point during the video that an ad is shown can affect the way people respond to the ad. For example, ads shown before a video are perceived better by consumers than those shown during a video. According to the report, the majority (54 percent) of mobile users said pre-roll ads are engaging. In comparison, only about one-third of mobile users found either outstream or mid-roll ads engaging.

The reasons for this preference for pre-roll ads aren't too hard to speculate on. Mid-roll ads stop the video consumers wanted to watch in order to show them a commercial. And with outstream ads, the content people wanted to see is finished, so there's less of a reason to watch an additional ad afterwards.

The data from the survey has information that supports the above speculations. According to the researchers, pre-roll ads are seen as the 'least interruptive' by mobile users, with only 17 percent feeling their experience is interrupted by pre-roll ads. On the other hand, three out of five (60 percent) feel that outstream ads interrupted their experience and nearly three out of four (72 percent) said the same for mid-stream ads. For the time being (and foreseeable future), pre-roll ads are the clear winner for video marketers.

"We are big advocates of marketers using a mix of video formats and strategies to effectively reach target audiences, but it also comes as no surprise that pre-roll remains a dominant cornerstone in a multi-format approach. This artful balance of formats meets brand objectives while delivering memorable experiences for consumers," said Michael Hudes, Chief Revenue Officer, YuMe, according to media reports. "Through this trial, we've been able to clearly outline and reveal the power and impact of video formats across devices. This type of data and insights will prove invaluable for brands continuing to innovate in this space."

Despite the fact that advertising is often overt, it's necessary to make it non-obstructive. To illustrate, think of a billboard on the highway. Drivers can clearly see the billboard and read the advertisement without it disturbing their driving experience. The same thing needs to be true for video marketers on mobile platforms. Marketers need to show the video in a way that it can be seen but doesn't get in the way of the mobile users.

For all of the methods of showing video ads, pre-roll ads were best for not disturbing the mobile viewer. Over half (53 percent) of consumers said that pre-roll video ads did not disturb their mobile browsing experience. But for even better, more subtle ways to get people to watch marketing videos is to use social media. According to survey, two out of three (67 percent) of consumers say social video 'did not disturb' their mobile browsing experience.

Whenever possible, online marketers should use pre-roll options on their ad platform to ensure viewers are more likely to find the ad engaging. And using social media platforms to spread videos is an effective way to show videos in a manner that doesn't disturb the viewer's browsing experience.

For more recent data on online advertising, read this article on the value of coupons for driving online behavior.