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Consolidating Measurement for Online Video

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It’s never been more important for our clients to know which online video platform generates the strongest return for their investment. As a Paid Social team, we are often tasked to compare platforms so as to see which had the greatest impact on their desired audience, driven the best “view-through rate” (VTR) and the most cost-effective views. It is, therefore, our job to provide them with insights that help influence future decision making and budget allocations. But how do we compare the performance of video across platforms when these platforms aren’t consistent on what a video view (VV) is? To avoid comparing apples with oranges, what we really need is an alignment of metrics and platform behaviour to dig out the real insights which aren’t always visible to the naked eye.

Paid Social platforms tend to operate in independent silos and, without alignment, this creates confusion on video performance and if answers are not sufficient enough for the client, they simply drop a platform from their next plan.

Facebook last year was found to be accidently exaggerating video view count (somewhere around 60-80%) in which they counted people who were scrolling through their news feed slower than normal and watched below 3 seconds of the video ad – and keep in mind all videos are on auto play and without sound. Without a significant warning, they fully reviewed their “view” methodology for video advertising placements, changing this from the previous 3 seconds to the new trendy 10 seconds (the minimum duration to be deemed effective) as a standard. This does give us more coherent and robust result as to what a VV is – so it was definitely a good move (bowing to pressure from the wider advertising industry).

To avoid comparing apples with oranges, what we really need is an alignment of metrics and platform behaviour

YouTube In-Stream ads incur their costs at 30 seconds (or the end of the ad if it is below the 30 seconds). It doesn’t report on any other video view metric, only 25% to 75% watched, which we need to calculate manually from video length duration to get closer to a like-for-like 10 second view metric.

For Twitter, VV is still 3 seconds as a standard and similarly as on YouTube, we can see percentage from 25% to 75% video watched. But what about the earned views from people commenting and sharing videos, which then appear on their timeline? Twitter specifically designs its ad placements to be easily shared. These views are not accounted for in their campaign reporting; which detracts from the earned media value of the platform.

Without Twitter and YouTube making 10 seconds a standard video view metric, it’s difficult to compare media impacts from platform to platform. Of course, the Holy Grail would be to have a standard 10 second view cross-platform, but there is no coordinated initiative from platform developers to do so. It could also be argued that the differentiation of each platform provides each vendor with a USP – that could be diluted with standardisation. Facebook has moved in the right direction with this newest upgrade and still provides the most comprehensive video view metric varieties (3s, 10s, 30s as well as 25% – 95% watched, and completed views) to best answer potential questions that clients may have on the performance.

To make things even more challenging, the whole industry is moving to a vertical video format due to Snapchat, Instagram Stories and, now, the new Messenger Stories; again, there is a maximum video duration difference on each platform. Mobile now accounts for vast majority of time spent online, so there are new sets of questions clients will pose: optimal length of the video ad, vertical vs horizontal, how to capture attention in the first 2 seconds rather than first 5 seconds…No one will wait 5s to see if the ad was interesting enough.

So, what should happen to make it all a bit more transparent in the future? New tech adoption is the holistic answer. New marketing tools are being developed as we speak but there are none that will provide full answers to the above. This new tech should focus on consumable metrics that go beyond the standard VTR, CPV or VV duration and would provide a (video) behavioural analysis that ties together each platform and understands the different reasons of why and how the user spends their time on these. Or, the platforms could just standardise video view methodology…

Martin Krajcovic – Account Director

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