(As posted on MediaPost)

Viewability remains a key issue in our online advertising world, with marketers and publishers alike investing heavily in solutions. The effort devoted to the issue, especially in video, shows how important digital advertising has become in today’s media landscape.

As video commands a larger portion of advertising budgets, it’s not surprising that video viewability is a chief concern. But once this issue is satisfactorily addressed, marketers need to know what other metrics matter. It’s great if all of an advertiser’s videos meet the IAB viewability standard, but does that matter more than completion rates or other engagement metrics? If ads are always seen, but the message never connects, did the campaign accomplish any of its goals? These are major questions, and once marketers are comfortable with viewability, the following metrics will take on even greater importance.

Viewing Time and Completion Rates

Putting video ads within view is, of course, the first step toward campaign success. But the next step is figuring out if consumers actually watched the video while it was viewable.

Even more important are how long the ad actually stays in view while it plays, and how many viewers completed the video. Research supports the fact that completed views are more valuable to advertisers than click-through rates, with brand recall being significantly higher if the entire ad was watched.

This lets marketers really measure how their creative connects with their audience and how well it resonates. It’s arguably better to deliver a slightly lower overall viewability percentage and a higher video completion rate. A high percentage of consumers getting further through the video or watching the entire ad is a good indication that the marketer is hitting the right audience and delivering a successful campaign.

Moreover, in an effort to get ads in view, advertisers shouldn’t forget that reaching the right consumers is imperative to a successful campaign — and that achieving 100% viewability still doesn’t guarantee that they have reached the right audience.

Engagement Metrics

Of course, viewing time doesn’t tell the whole story. Marketers must dive deeper into their metrics to uncover the audiences that actually engaged with the video. Marketers can more deeply measure campaign effectiveness by examining engagement with interactive elements like overlays or buttons within the videos. Click-through rates alone are not good indicators of success for branding campaigns. In fact, clicking through, whether done purposefully or inadvertently, could result in the viewer missing the ad message altogether.

High skip rates are part of the engagement puzzle as well, with very high rates signaling low engagement. Either the campaign is missing the target audience, or the creative isn’t resonating. Repurposed 15- or 30-second television spots do not always perform well in an online environment where users actively consume content verses passive TV consumption. Creative and spot length matter, and delivering a compelling hook and brand message in the first few seconds can make the difference between success and failure.

Post Campaign Conversions

The power of programmatic ad buying and audience targeting is that brands can compare different audience segments side by side. Astute marketers slice their performance numbers to find which segments deliver the highest performance and optimize toward those.

Marketers need to look at these performance metrics, monitor if they improve or decline over time, and look deeper into trends revealed through post-campaign data. Was one piece of creative more effective than others? Did one audience segment exhibit higher engagement? Did one creative result in higher completion rates? These are valuable insights.

Of course, the purest measurement of campaign success is the ring of the cash register. Digital attribution models are still evolving, but marketers should start monitoring the ROI on their video campaigns even as they still struggle to define viewability.

Viewability is still a major concern, but the truth is that it’s just one factor among many in a marketer’s campaign considerations, and not the leading indicator of success.  Once marketers get some assurance that their ads are seen, the true value for video lies in making sure the right audience responds to and remembers the message.


Written by Jeremy Ostermiller
Founder & CEO