6 ways you're wasting money on video

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Engagement metrics

While we're on the topic of monitoring campaigns, it's important that advertisers are actually aware of what to monitor. Tracking the wrong metrics ultimately amounts to wasted budget.

There are several different ways to measure an online video campaign. Completion rates are similar to TV ads, in that advertisers track how many people viewed an ad through to the end. Other advertisers utilizing video overlays or enhanced interactive elements may want to track engagement, which has multiple definitions unto itself. Engagement may include a mouse-over to activate an animation, or it may include a click to start a longer section of video. When marketers start measuring with these criteria, they need to get a clear definition of what everything means in order to ensure they're not wasting any spend.

There's another thorny issue with engagement as well, and that's playback method. Recent studies indicate that auto-play ads drive very different reactions compared to user-initiated, click-to-play pre-roll spots. Auto play drives high awareness, but may result in bad association. Click-to-play brings high engagement and higher intent to purchase a product.

If a campaign goal is to raise awareness in a short amount of time, an advertiser may want to go the auto-play route. If they want better engagement numbers and are attempting to drive a specific action, then they should develop a media plan around click-to-play.

Failure to distribute

Way back in 2007, Anheuser-Busch invested nearly $30 million dollars in an online video venture called bud.tv. It was slightly ahead of its time as one of the first sites to adopt the online TV network model that is so prevalent today, but it struggled to attract an audience and folded in 2009.

One big reason that bud.tv didn't take off was the idea that niche destination sites would attract major audiences online, enough to drive sales and justify the cost. The key takeaway is that online video is not a place where if you build it (or post it), the audience will come. Content marketing, especially in video, is heavily reliant on the message reaching an engaged audience. In today's video paradigm, the best way to do that is through a diversified distribution strategy, one that takes your video (whether it's branded content or a 30-second pre-roll) and syndicates it across sites.

Content creators and advertisers need to proactively seek out and find the best audiences for their message through working with partners, preferably those who are nonexclusive.

The alternative is to post a video on YouTube and hope that it receives enough traffic to justify all the money and man-hours put into the production. Brands alone aren't enough to drive visitors to standalone sites, nor are they going to drive views on big hubs like YouTube.