May 28, 2015

A View by Any Other Name

So just how long is a video view? For YouTube, it’s 30 seconds. For Facebook, it’s three seconds; which may well be why the social network was able to grow its daily video view count from one billion views per day in September 2014 to three billion in January 2015, and four billion in April 2015.

This new ‘minimalism’ also extends to digital advertising. To qualify as a view, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) requires only that “at least 50 percent of the ad’s pixels are visible on a screen for at least two consecutive seconds.”

Why am I bringing this up? Good question.

First, it helps make sense of Snapchat’s recent claim that its 100 million users are watching two billion mobile videos a day (about 20 video views a day per user). Second, it provides a cautionary tale of what happens when there are no standards and every platform creates its own metrics, making it impossible to compare apples to apples. (Or even apples to oranges. Although, given the wide variety of methods used by various social platforms to measure video, it is actually more a case of comparing apples to elephants.)

The lack of an agreed-upon measurement standard is a huge problem for advertisers trying to make the best use of their ad dollars. It is true that the linear TV audience is shrinking, and more people are spending more time on social networks, but how does this shifting reality impact the true value of advertising on each platform?

Without such standards in place, it is difficult to know what constitutes a ‘view.’ Is it around 30 seconds (as some major players contend), or closer to one-tenth of that? Is the 30-second view worth ten times the 3-second view? Or does any sort of impression, regardless of duration, have a quantifiable value? And if a ‘view’ equates to the appearance of only 50% of an ad’s pixels, is this really enough for a viewer to tell whose ad it is?

There is a reason everyone in the television industry sticks with Nielsen (no matter how much time they spend in private decrying its shortcomings). Nielsen provides a single standard of measurement on which everyone—-advertisers, networks, and operators alike—-can agree. It is around this consensus that the current $65 billion ad market is built. This market foundation, however, is starting to show cracks since (wait for it) there is no agreed upon standard of measurement for one of its most rapidly growing segments, OTT TV views.

Which brings us back to video views on social platforms….

If people are consuming billions of hours of video on social platforms each day, there is definitely an ad market to be built. YouTube viewers actively seek out videos they want to watch, making them more likely to sit through an ad in order to see them. Facebook relies on the ‘Mighty Algorithm’ to determine the videos we want to see. However, users do spend a lot of time on Facebook—-around 40 minutes every day-—and auto-play video is an effective way to get a message across, even if the viewer does not actively engage.

This alone should motivate the industry to push Google and Facebook (and Twitter and Snapchat and Tumblr and Pinterest) toward agreement on a single standard by which to measure ad views. Ideally, this new metric would also factor in elements like engagement, sentiment around that engagement, and other data points that can be easily measured on social platforms (such as the number of views an ad gets across disparate platforms). This would allow for the sort of accurate measurement that makes marketers feel good about the money they are spending. It would also provide a more precise snapshot of a campaign’s total performance in all media: social, linear, and on-demand.

The tools and technology that could power this sort of all-encompassing accurate measurement are available; someone just needs to step up to the plate.

Stick with TDG and stay ahead of the curve.

[bctt tweet=”Shifting Views:
Digital Ad Measurement and the Future of OTT TV-new Analyst Insight from @awolk”]

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