Benchmarking Viewer Abandonment in Online Video

Visible Measures / September 29, 2010

How often do you click away from online videos while they’re playing? Yeah, me too. In a world of nearly infinite choice in online video, it doesn’t take much to get bored or distracted or… and poof, we’re gone.

This behavior of viewers clicking away or dropping off is called viewer abandonment. In general, how common is this behavior? And how are your campaigns performing versus industry abandonment benchmarks? 

To help you better understand viewer abandonment and its benchmarks, we looked at how viewers watched and ultimately abandoned over 40 million unique video clips, which, in aggregate, have received nearly 7 billion views. We limited our research to short-form videos of less than 300 seconds (5 minutes) in duration.

Finding: Expect to Lose 20% of Your Audience Within the First 10 Seconds of Playback

Our research yielded some compelling findings, including surprisingly high levels of initial viewer abandonment. For instance, our sample showed that, on average, nearly 20% of the audience that starts watching a given video clip will abandon it within the first 10 seconds of playback. So if your online video campaign has 10 million viewers, 2 million of them saw less than 10 seconds of it. Ouch. 

Online video Abandonment Research Visible Measures

In general, viewer abandonment appears to be a function of time spent in-stream and follows a relatively predictable trajectory.

Above is a graph that summarizes average video abandonment by time spent viewing, which shows a consistent rate of viewer drop-off. Within the first 30 seconds of a video, you can expect to lose 33% of your viewers. At 60 seconds, 44% of the audience that started viewing the clip will have left. And so on. 

Keep in mind that these are benchmark figures and your video content may perform similarly, better, or worse. But this data will hopefully help you better interpret your video metrics. 

Viewer Abandonment in Context

Now that you know have some benchmarks for short-form clips, you can see how effective your videos are at maintaining viewer interest against the norm. For example, let’s take a look at a popular, if somewhat controversial, online video ad for Bud Light: Magazine Buyer.

Bud Light: Magazine Buyer

Tags: advertising, internet video, measurement, online video, playthrough, viewer abandonment,