Video Advertising’s MVM (Most Valuable Metric) You Probably Don’t Know About

August 10, 2016

When you run a video ad campaign, what’s the most valuable result you could imagine? The obvious answer is, first and foremost:

“My target audience watched my ads!”

And that’s why video ad views carry so much weight with advertisers.

But the problem is, publishers measure views differently and it can be a real challenge making apples-to-apples comparisons among them. Take the ongoing heavyweight bout between YouTube and Facebook, for example….

YouTube counts a view as 30 seconds or the complete ad, whichever comes first. Facebook counts a view as 3 seconds—one second more than an impression by IAB standards. Clearly, there’s quite a discrepancy between the two publishers.

Beyond the View

However, back in 2012, YouTube introduced a new metric that measured how long any given video—including an ad—is watched in aggregate over time. They called it “watch time,” and they quickly adopted it as the prime metric for YouTube’s video recommendation engine.

“YouTube states that watch time is ‘the most important method for measuring success on your channel and videos,’ and it is the primary influence of all major search and discovery algorithms across YouTube.”
“The importance of watch time and subscribers to your YouTube Channel” | The DIY Musician | June 23, 2015

Indeed, thanks to YouTube’s efforts to boost the metric, “watch time on YouTube has increased by 60% year-over-year,” according to CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Now it’s time to recognize it as a prime metric for ad campaigns, too. Advertisers are excited to learn that their ads are watched for hundreds, even thousands of hours during the course of their campaigns.

The Prime Value of View Time

For video ads, we call it view time because it comprises both completed views and partial views (those YouTube ads that people skip before the end).guy-coffeeshop-phone-600x400

It’s a unique and powerful way to measure your connection with your audience during a video ad campaign. Plus, taken in conjunction with completed views and reach, view time not only gives you a sense of how wide your message goes, but how deep as well.

With the data available from YouTube, we calculate view time for each campaign we run. We even estimate view time for proposed campaigns using certain assumptions and a formula we devised that is based on the quartiles for different lengths of ads.

View Time and Ad Ranking

Finally, given YouTube’s emphasis on watch time for recommending and discovering content videos, it’s likely video ad view time also plays a key role in YouTube ad ranking, meaning the greater your ad’s relative view time, the greater its ability to win bids for target viewers.

So it’s important to measure view time in every campaign and understand the variables that effect it, such as optimized audience targeting and ad personalization.

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