Beyond Viewability: Ad Clutter And Video Verification Metrics

My first “Beyond Viewability” post talked about understanding the actual content of a video and its relevance to both increasing revenue via targeting and reducing risk via brand safety. Now we’ll talk about a couple of additional data factors that aren’t part of any viewable standard and also might not fall under the traditional definition of the word but are still extremely important when trying to measure and evaluate the strength and quality of an impression. Some fall under the umbrella of ad clutter, while others are more attributes of the videos and publishers.

Multiple Videos on a Page

Between 8% and 10% of every ad-supported video view online has two or more videos playing on the same page. As networks and exchanges have just started rolling out traditional viewability (i.e. measuring if the ad appears on the screen of a user for more than two seconds) we’ve seen a big uptick in two videos rolling at the same time ABOVE the fold.

Under every standard, these views count as two impressions -- but obviously humans can’t digest two videos at the same time. In fact, these should measure out to zero since you can’t really digest anything if there are two pieces of media running with two tracks -- visual and audio -- playing at the same time. The tendency among bad actors is to simply flow to weak spots and this is definitely an increasingly popular tactic. We expect to see an increase in this over the next six to 12 months as the original viewable enemy (videos playing below the fold and on auto-play) gradually gets rooted out.

Player Size

Almost half of all the video impressions out there run in a 300×250 player. Most buyers think that video means a nice big screen in a dominant format and placement, but in the majority of cases they are getting these much smaller formats. For a brand or an agency it can get complicated to understand where they are running by simply inspecting domains or publishers before or during a campaign. Often a smaller video networked by a syndication player will also be running, and at the reporting level the impressions look exactly the same as videos produced by the actual publisher.

I’m not saying that running in that smaller player is bad, but the advertiser and agency need to know this information to help them determine what domains truly meet their needs for creative, reach and price. It’s almost impossible to plan well if you don’t know whether or not half your campaign is going to run in a 300×250 player, or whether or not the content has been created by a publisher or is part of some mass syndication.


Even if the videos are in view, there is a distinction between user-initiated and auto-play. There is built-in interest with a user-initiated play, and these kind of views can be planned for both in budget and creative. Auto-play videos are just fine as impressions, but it's just as important to know what mix of the campaign has this feature so that it can be planned and budgeted for effectively.

Audibility (Muting)

Much of the time auto-play videos start on mute. Again, it's important to understand this before the campaign runs for planning purposes.

Other Pre-roll Ads Running

This is more of a generic/campaign metric -- but it is also quite important to know what other ads will be running alongside your ad in a given campaign. If there are multiple videos on some pages, this obviously complicates the issue further.

All this information should and could be known in some form: BEFORE the campaign runs at the media plan stage, DURING the campaign as a blacklisting/whitelisting opportunity, and AFTER the campaign as an analytics and optimization check. Fortunately, this kind of data reporting CAN be gathered at all stages. With all this information measured, you can start to draw correlations between various video ad success metrics.  

Buying video can be so much more successful and so much less “black box” by doing data analysis throughout the campaign lifecycle. What's more, being armed with this knowledge is guaranteed to improve the reach of a particular campaign per dollar spent. Now you know -- and knowing is half the battle.

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