Knowing how you are going to measure success is critical to determine BEFORE a campaign is ever commissioned. To quote Seneca, the Roman philosopher, statesman, dramatists and all-around-nice-guy, "If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable."
Formal research, industry case studies and many vendor PowerPoint presentations have all indicated, unequivocally, that online video advertising is totally awesome. Video ads, unlike all other online ads, can elicit an emotional reaction and forge a connection with your audience.
Even better is that these warm fuzzy feelings can be tracked and analyzed via detailed reports, making it possible to dissipate the hazy cloud of "totally awesome" and boil it down into exact (within 10 percent) empirical metrics. All you need to do is identify which metric is most relevant to a campaign's goals.
So, how'd we do?
For those who get to walk their clients through these detailed reports, answering the "How'd we do?" question can be as enjoyable as an electroconvulsive massage.
Campaign success can be ascertained by answering two questions:
- Did we reach the right people?
- Did we affect the audience the way we wanted to?
"Reaching the right people" has to do with the strategic placement of your media. It isn't covered in the detailed report, but if men start buying your feminine hygiene CPGs, you know you hit the wrong market…albeit, with amazingly powerful creative.
"How the audience was affected" is comprehensively cataloged by clicks, percentage of video viewed, interaction rates, and a slew of other metrics, all of which translate into some level of awareness and response. It is understanding each of these metric's distinctive roles in a campaign's success, though, that allows you to say whether the audience was affected the way the advertiser wanted them to be.
NOTE: Advertisers who don't know what they want from their audience, or do know but don't utilize creative that best facilitates those ends, have got larger issues to deal with than figuring out which reporting metric is the one for them.
With that in mind, let's look at some differences between the key metrics behind online video campaigns and the strengths and weakness they have in telling the success story.
Well, what were you trying to accomplish?
We wanted to drive people to a destination URL:
Clicks tell you how many people went to a destination URL from the unit. They are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interaction, but they reflect a deliberate action by the user. Clicks show that the ad units captured a user's attention and imbued them with the interest and intent to learn more. Clicks are also the grandfather of all metrics (respect to the click), but if you're relying on them as the sole indicator of success, you might be underutilizing your online video ads.
Clicks take users away from the pages they're on, and once users arrives on this new page, clicks don't tell you whether the user converted from a "user" to a "customer," or if they immediately returned to the page from whence they came.
We wanted the audience to watch our video and be aware of our product:
The Percentage of Video Viewed metric tells you how long, on average, users watched a video. It's a great metric because no other medium can report on it. (take that other media who still get 95 percent of total advertising budgets!)
Critics argue that, for in-banner video units, which play automatically, there's no guarantee that users noticed the ad, and that the percentage viewed is actually percentage played. To this I point out that different campaigns get completely different results even when viewed on the same site, on the same page, from the same geo-target, on the same day, in-and-around the same content. Some units might go unnoticed, but on average, this is a good metric when you want to know if a video grabbed attention and was watched.
Basing a video's success on how long it was viewed for is more relevant in the TV model though. In the interactive space, video can actively be used to promote interaction.
We like buzz words and wanted to utilize someone's "turn-key" solution to "engage" our audience with "interactive" units:
I love Interaction Rate. IR is the sum of all the interactions, divided by the number of impressions. These interactions include the clickthroughs, replays clicks, unmute clicks, clicks on all the add-on features (submit info, download, watch video 2), clicks within a game, rollovers, etc.
A high IR shows a greater level of engagement and when deconstructed, the elements of the IR paint the picture of how users utilized the units. Advertisers can see what their audience is interested in based on which videos they replayed most, or which products they clicked on or rolled-over more.
The downside is that IR isn't standardized, and units with more opportunity for interaction will often have a higher interaction rate…which doesn't mean that a campaign with a lower IR wasn't as successful.
Higher Interaction rates let you see that your video units are raising awareness and cultivating intent to interact.
The web allows for near-unlimited measurement, and since numbers and statistics can say pretty much anything, one needs to know before the campaign ever begins whether they want to make the audience interested in a message, aware of a message, or interact with the message. Once everyone is on the same page as to what the campaign is supposed to accomplish, the important metrics can be identified, the proper creative can be designed, and then, after all is said and done, reporting data can be used to justify how totally awesome a video campaign actually was.
Bradley Werner is the director of marketing, The Fifth Network. .