Most advertisers use tried and true criteria to gauge the quality of their online video programs. Namely, where's it going to run? How many impressions will I get? What's my click-through rate (CTR)? And how much will it cost?
But the site list, the CTR, and the CPMs (cost per thousand) don't tell us the whole story -- and the story they do tell is an imperfect one at best. Site lists, for example, are generally opaque, amounting to little more than cherry-picked samples of better known sites that comprise only a small percentage of the overall distribution.
Impressions tell us how many times a video was presented, but they don't tell us where on the page it appeared or if it was even visible to the user at the time it played. DoubleVerify's recent "viewability" metric addresses this to a degree, but it's only treating a symptom.
The larger issue is that advertisers plan and evaluate their online video programs the same way they do their print, radio, and TV. In doing so they're missing out on significant opportunities to micro-target audiences, engage them, generate earned media actions, and clearly evaluate and optimize this activity in real time.
There are, however, non-traditional ways to capture this value. Here are some of the best:
Buying based on performance puts the onus on publishers and distributors to deliver genuine engagement, not just display-oriented "impressions." It eliminates waste and creates a more targeted and trackable program.
When users opt in to the ad experience, advertisers enjoy significantly higher engagement, intent to purchase, and brand lift. Offering rewards, such as the ability to earn virtual currency or enjoy ad-free content, drives millions of targeted video views. This type of social video targets viewers by age, gender, and geography via their social profiles.
Placing simple sharing buttons and calls to action on video players can drive significant earned media actions after the view. Three to 5 percent of users took an action after viewing a social video in 2011, according to a study my company recently conducted.
Advertisers have a right to know exactly where their videos are running. By demanding site-specific reporting, they can avoid unsafe brand placements and gain a better understanding of which creative treatments and which sites are delivering value.
The guidelines above allow advertisers to develop targeted, functional programs that focus on bottom line interactions and value, rather than top line site lists and impressions. In this system, advertisers can apply much more powerful evaluative criteria to their online video programs, including:
- How effectively did the program reach targeted consumers?
- Which sites and properties delivered the most value?
- How many consumers watched to the end of the video?
- Which creative execution performed the best?
- How many web visits, coupon downloads, or other actions were generated?
- What was the value of the post-view actions?
Beyond the obvious advantages of increased attention and targeting, this style of non-interruptive social video produces more profound benefits for advertisers and for publishers. Instead of interrupting users as frequently and obtrusively as possible, publishers, advertisers, and audiences are working together. As interactive media continues to evolve, advertisers will learn to recognize and exploit these opportunities, leaving the old reach-and-frequency mindset behind.
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