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How do Advertisers Measure Video Success?

How do Advertisers Measure Video Success?

We're often asked about metrics that matter to advertisers by our digital media customers. Is it ad views? Minutes watched? Click through to ads? And, assuming that advertisers do care about this stuff, are there industry averages for any or each of these metrics?

First and foremost, it should be said upfront that all advertisers aren't the same and all publishers aren't the same. As such, the comments below are generalizations to a degree.

Ultimately, advertisers are hoping to accomplish a variety of things when advertising within video content. When they initially dive into video advertising, their online view is similar to their TV advertising perspective: primarily they want to ensure that they're reaching the proper audience. For instance, ads for muscle cars are looking for men aged 18-34, while laundry detergent manufacturers are typically interested in moms, aged 30-49--and so on and so forth.

From there, as their strategy progresses, they'll look at the content itself as certain content is more likely to draw a specific audience. Advertisers recognize that not every single person watching the show or clip is in their target audience, but videos about baby care, for instance, are probably better for soap makers than sports car makers.

Next, advertisers want to know how "engaged" viewers are with the publisher's content or brand. If there aren't a lot of repeat visitors or viewers don't typically watch all (or most) of a video, then there's not a lot of affinity. The implication is that the advertiser's message will be more accepted if the user is more connected to the content.

Those are all things that help an advertiser decide where to spend their dollars (and how much!); however, none of them are easily or directly measurable by the advertiser. This data must be obtained from comScore, Nielsen or directly from the publisher.

Advertisers do have a clear view of:

  • Impressions: Did the publisher deliver all the impressions promised (i.e., was there as much traffic as expected)? It's a very basic metric, but it is at the core of every campaign. This is because if a publisher could only deliver half of the impressions promised, then there's no way the advertiser is reaching its entire desired audience.
  • Target impressions: These are sometimes hard to determine. For instance, did the impressions that were delivered reach the right person (i.e. the mom instead of the young man)?
  • Quality Impressions: Were the ads seen above the fold in user-initiated video? Or, were they forced on the viewer in other ways?
  • Ad Completion: This is sometimes called "engagement" -- a term I loathe as it has no true definition. But advertisers want to know how long viewers are watching their ads for. This is one of the most important metrics, especially when combined with other data. For example, if my ads are viewed 90 percent to completion on a site with low traffic, that is usually much more valuable than ads viewed to only 25 percent with much higher traffic. However, it's not very efficient. See "efficiency" below.
  • Click-through: Unfortunately, this is still a heavily used metric by some advertisers--especially when doing buys on an ad network--because there is often less information on the content and audience.
  • Brand Awareness/Lift: This is measured by studies conducted after an ad campaign that determine if viewers have more awareness of a brand or product as a result of seeing an ad.
  • Product Sales: this is a metric more used in "direct response" advertising, where the intent of the ad is to motivate an immediate response to purchase. In my opinion, online video advertising isn't a great medium for direct response advertising.
  • Buying Efficiency: This is a less obvious parameter, but in some ways it is the most important. It can be hard for advertisers to spend large amounts of money in online video. They can easily spend $25 million on a TV ad campaign that runs on a dozen shows across five or six broadcast and cable channels and reach a large percentage of their target audience. To spend that same amount of money online and reach the same number of their target audience, they might need to put together a media buy on dozens or even hundreds of sites, and then spend significant time analyzing the results.

Do you agree with these metrics? What else should--or must--advertisers consider? Let me know in the comments.