Digital Video Needs a New Approach to Measurement

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Aside from a powerful grip on audience attention, the greatest lure of digital video is its measurability. Thanks to the huge data stores viewing activity produces, it has more than enough insight to answer the ROI question; that’s why video ad spend is swelling — set to rise by 20% this year — as budgets for TV shrink, despite vast scale.

But just because video can be easily tracked, doesn’t mean performance evaluation is challenge-free. Much like other digital media, video consumption is fragmented, with content-hungry viewers switching between many platforms. If advertisers want to optimise video campaign success, they must not only ensure messages reach audiences across multiple channels, but also consistently trace their impact.

And that calls for a new approach to video measurement.

What’s wrong with existing methods?

According to the latest IAB Video Landscape Report, one issue represents a bigger challenge for advertisers than any other: cross-channel measurement. The inability to gain a complete view of audience interaction is making it impossible to separate what’s working from what isn’t, and adjust strategy accordingly. And among the key reasons behind this difficulty is a familiar industry problem: silos.

By now, most advertisers know the silo rhetoric: fragmented campaign management leads to isolated datasets that can cause disjointed messaging and assessment. But there is little recognition that it applies just as much to video as the great online to offline divide. When teams are siloed by video subgroup — such as social media and on-demand or even platform: YouTube, Facebook and Instagram — the reporting data they generate will be fractured, limited, and often imprecise.

Reconnecting video performance

In short, improving video advertising evaluation means overcoming silos. Firstly, this will involve increasing departmental collaboration; making sure teams are working to the same overarching business and campaign goals, and telling a joined-up, cross-channel story.

Secondly, it requires a particular focus on cohesive measurement. To simplify video evaluation, departments should be measuring defined data points across platforms. And a crucial ingredient of the process is consolidated data; without a central data pool, advertisers can’t track performance against one set of indicators. So, adopted advanced tools that can break down silos — be that a customer data platform (CDP) or holistic analysis technology — is now a must for video success; particularly if tools also offer access to further data resources, such as walled gardens.

Connected video: realising data potential

Once advertisers have linked data points and teams, there are numerous ways they can use unification to bolster video impact. Take, for instance, attribution. When allocating budget to digital video, brands need to understand which strategy will help them offer the best customer journey and drive strong results. And to do that they need proof points of the impact made by each ad for particular audiences. Data-driven platforms are essential in providing this insight.

For example, marketers can track the cost per viewable second or minute to determine to the impact of a video asset. Alternatively they can look at the total watch time. Both these metrics help to create a sense of the strengths of platforms, relative to cost and engagement.

By generating a holistic picture of performance, they can help pinpoint the ads, tactics, offers and time frames that resonate best to inform future spend distribution and enable refined targeting that improves ROI. For example, data might show that an individual views videos on parenting products via Facebook but watches gaming videos on YouTube; indicating a wide range of interests brand advertisers can harness to serve connected and relevant ads across channels.

In fact, data can even be utilised to measure and maximise video ad effectiveness at every stage of the viewer journey. With access to best-in-class insights, advertisers can determine which types of ads typically receive a positive response from certain individuals, and where they are in their unique path to purchase — and leverage this data to persistently match ads with current needs and video preferences. The added bonus being that the more data is gathered about cross-channel video engagement, the more fuel advertisers will have for improving future messages, and results.

To achieve a clear and accurate picture of their video ad spend, marketers need a long-term strategy involving better collaboration and less silos, while harnessing technology to link data points and provide clear insight on audiences. Only with this more joined-up approach can they truly understand how effectively campaigns are working across platforms, and ensure they get real value from their ad spend.

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