At some point early this year, the MRC and IAB will announce a standard for in-stream video viewability, defining an ad as “viewable” if it is 50% within view for more than two seconds. It may not be a perfect standard, but it’s a good start. Now, every publisher, ad server and vendor has the blueprint to offer an in-stream video viewability measure. There are no more excuses.
Yet viewability is still in its infancy, especially when it comes to in-stream video. Now that everyone can begin reporting on viewability, what comes next? Viewability is only the first step toward understanding video performance and how consumers interact and respond to the ads. Stopping there is only providing one piece of the puzzle. A full understanding requires marketers to look at a combination of placement, audience and creative.
Viewability solves one thing, giving the advertiser a limited understanding of whether their ad ever appeared within the user’s line of site during playback, albeit for just a couple seconds. What that doesn’t provide is the size of the video player and its location on the page -- crucial for understanding the consumer’s experience. A video located at the bottom of an article page doesn’t have the same impact as a central location where the video is the primary focus.
The same is true for comparing in-stream video within a defined player versus a small banner ad placement. Marketers are looking for ways to identify the important distinction between in-banner and in-stream video because this directly impacts the ad’s effectiveness and the intent of their investment.
Accountability and differentiation in video placement is critical, but it’s not the only distinction to make. Placement is becoming synonymous with “screen,” and this is less a trend than it is the new reality. Knowing which screen the ad was served to and understanding how consumers engage with each one -- whether a desktop video player, a mobile or tablet player, or a connected TV -- informs how marketers create appropriate content for each device.
I’d posit that audience has a symbiotic and evermore important relationship with placement in 2014 than it has previously, and will continue to do so. The quick emergence of an online GRP is an attempt to help marketers know if the ad reached the intended audience, not just the indented place. It also effectively bridges the chasm between TV and digital with a common vernacular. This helps the story of video measurement and performance take shape, but a more holistic package that combines viewability and GRP metrics with one other key component is needed to paint a more complete picture of the ad’s efficacy.
For all the emphasis on video as a delivery channel, the actual content of the ad is often swept under the rug. Creative can have a huge effect on how consumers respond to the ad, in terms of both sentiment and action. Getting an ad within view, in a good placement, and in front of the right audience are important factors, but they are just the build-up to the real message. Brands have to deliver compelling content that tells a story about the brand. Otherwise, the ad falls flat, and all the planning and measurement in the world won’t help. Understanding creative helps marketers make better decisions about how to represent the brand through video.
Leveraging dynamic elements can bolster the quality and relevance of the creative. Audience and placement can inform the in-stream content and creative of ads in real time, leading to tailored messages with additional layers of emotion, personalization and, ultimately, connection. Applying this strategy really drives home the value of in-stream video, inciting higher engagement with brand’s content.Truly effective advertising will require a combination of all four of these factors: viewability, placement, audience and creative. Now that we have a viewability standard, the industry needs to give agencies and marketers even more information to help them make better planning decisions. Those who look at video advertising from a pure-media perspective -- whether the ad was visible on the page or not -- are only taking part of the journey, and they’re going to end up losers in the world of video marketing and content creation.