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MTV Networks: Which video ads work best

A survey tested effectiveness and consumer opinion of different video ad formats across MTVN's media properties. The winner? A five-second pre-roll with a short pop-up in mid-clip.

This is sort of interesting. MTV Networks, which certainly has a lot of video content out there on the Web, on Wednesday released the results of an internal study to determine what kinds of advertisements are most effective and online-friendly matches for short-form online videos.

The conclusion? "Project Inform," the MTV survey, found that a five-second-long "pre-roll" ad in advance of the clip, combined with ten seconds of a semi-transparent ad unit that takes up the lower third of the video (and starts about ten seconds in), makes up "both the most effective and the most audience-friendly ad product for short-form online video," according to a release.

MTVN calls this the "lower one-third product suite." It was tested against two other ad packages, the "sideloader," which combines the five-second pre-roll with an ad that rolls out of the side of the video window; and a traditional 30-second pre-roll before the ad.

So, obviously, that's a limited number of options and certainly doesn't reflect the full range of possibilities for online ads. But it was thorough: Project Inform ran consumer survey tests across about 50 million video streams on the Web properties for media brands like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.

"Short-form online video consumption is exploding, but there's still a lot of confusion among marketers over which ad formats deliver for brands without compromising the user experience," Nada Stirratt, executive vice president of digital advertising at the Viacom-owned MTV Networks, said in the release. "By exploring the viability of new ad products around short-form online video, Project Inform provides the type of insights crucial to creating the innovative, custom solutions that this marketplace needs."

The catch is whether even the highest-performing varieties of online video ads still really rake in the dollars. Online video has been notoriously difficult for companies to monetize, but that's in part because the first variety of video to gain traction on the Web was amateur, user-created content (do top-notch advertisers really want their message next to a video of a squirrel on water skis?) and also because traditional, TV-style ads don't have the same impact alongside shorter Web clips.

There have been some promising signs, though. Video portal Hulu has investigated a couple of experimental video ad formats since launching last year, and has had good news to report on the advertising front--like that its inventory sold out a month after its public debut.

Viacom isn't a member of the Hulu joint venture, which now consists of NBC Universal, Disney's ABC Entertainment, and News Corp. But a limited number of episodes from Comedy Central talk shows "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" started playing on Hulu last year.