Robert Clark
Oct 21, 2015

Time is money: Getting the measure of video

With online video eating up an increasing portion of ad budgets, the race is on to develop better metrics of audience impact.

Time is money: Getting the measure of video

There’s no overestimating the importance of online video. The weight of evidence shows it has high audience reach, converts better than any other medium and takes up a large part of user time.

It’s also taking up an increasing proportion of ad budgets. A survey of 1,000 UK and US marketers commissioned by video adtech firm Unruly Media found that 70 per cent had moved some of their TV budgets to programmatic video in the past year.

So the efforts to come up with video metrics that better reflect audience impact should come as no surprise. But it’s harder than it sounds. When YouTube started measuring time spent watching videos rather than raw view numbers its stats fell off a cliff, prompting anxious months for execs and some angry calls from advertisers. 

But the change ultimately made sense for advertisers and YouTube. The longer someone watches a video, the more chances to insert an ad. Since the change, YouTube’s video watch time  has grown 50 per cent year-on-year.

In the wider view, this is part of the shift away from brand-driven advertising to targeted messaging enabled by smarter online platforms.

Preethi Sanjeevi, regional CMO for VML Qais, says the problem with the traditional focus on brand awareness is that it’s difficult to determine how much value is being added. “So programmatic metrics have been applied to video advertising to ensure that the true value of this particular channel can be tracked effectively,” she says. Newer metrics, such as engagement and viewability, are important, but the challenge is “to prove that these are of value to an industry, which continues to rely on TV advertising as its mainstay”.

Phil Townend, managing director of Asia-Pacific for Unruly Media, says there has been an acceleration over the past three years of brands creating bespoke soft-sell videos with KPIs such as sharing or full completion. “These ads are there to create intense emotional connections which are now widely accepted to be the biggest driver of memory, sharing, brand recall and on and offline sales behaviour.”

TubeMogul Asia vice-president Susan Salop says the  power of video to create emotional connections is “unrivalled”. Click-through rates, she adds, have given way to new metrics such as on-target percentage (the impact on target market) and viewability.

That Unruly study found that marketers regarded viewability as the most important metric for brands. But Townend also admits it is “the single most divisive topic in the industry at the moment”.

“Definitions of what constitutes a viewable video impression vary wildly,” he says. Facebook sets the bar at 10 seconds on their in-feed ads, while the MRC industry definition is that 50 per cent of the player must be in view for at least two consecutive seconds.

Facebook argues that a full view of an ad isn’t necessary to create impact. It points to Nielsen statistics that show 47 per cent of the campaign value is created in the first three seconds of an ad, and 74 per cent in the first 10 seconds.

“The impression matters even before the video is played,” says Nadia Tan, head of marketing science analytics in Asia-Pacific for Facebook. She says brand lift occurs from the moment a video ad is viewed, even from the thumbnail before the video starts. 

Nielsen, which has partnered with Facebook and others to help aggregate numbers on video consumption, also stresses the importance of viewability. Anand Kalidasan, head of digital media for Nielsen Southeast Asia, says the ratings firm has just released its digital ad ratings product in southeast Asia, allowing brands to measure much more precisely the impact of campaigns.

Next year, Nielsen plans to launch a product co-developed with Adobe that aggregates viewership of TV, video and other digital content across all devices. 

Townend believes video will increasingly be measured in post-view metrics — actions consumers take after viewing the content. Unruly has been working with the IAB to create a new framework for social video measurement to help “agencies and brands set the right KPIs”.

CASE STUDY Video with purpose

How well do the new approaches to video measurement stack up for brands? Facebook cites an ad campaign for Garuda in which ad recall improved 24 per cent and generated a 3 per cent increase in purchase intent after four days.

The campaign, to launch GarudaMiles, targeted news feeds of professionals, travellers and finance  professionals in Indonesia. “Facebook proved to be the ideal platform to help us promote our video and encourage our target market to watch it,” said Garuda’s VP of digital business, Daniel Tumiwa.

TubeMogul, meanwhile, says it helped Unilever achieve 134 gross rating points (GRPs) among Singapore men aged 18 to 34 within 30 days. The brand knew TV alone would not be sufficient, as young men are more likely to be watching streaming video or on social networks. TubeMogul VP, Susan Salop said nearly 8 per cent of viewers clicked to learn more about Unilever’s hair products.

Our view: Advertisers and media owners need to work together on metrics to trade on.


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