The Case For User-Verified Online Video Content Viewing

Periodically and with increasing speed, the Internet goes through a transformation, which is today being defined by digital video. Thanks to innovative communications providers, the continued expansion of broadband and availability of faster download speeds to anyone with an Internet connection, video is now the new frontier on every device. Many are rushing to get a piece of the "action" and now, just like a growing community, we need to build the proper infrastructure to measure and value digital video.

This transformation is opening up new opportunities not only from a content perspective, but also for brands looking to expand their message beyond traditional banner ads that are wrought with abysmal clicks-through rates, hovering somewhere around .01% -- an unacceptable rate that over time has somehow become acceptable.

Online video differs from display advertising because it has a way of engaging users with sight, sound, motion, emotion and time savings that could never be achieved with written text. At the same time, it also drives increased quality time spent with a brand and its message, and delivers a more effective call to action that should ultimately generate better results. However, because of the application of old video models to new ones, marketers are not seeing as optimal results as they could when shifting budgets to this new medium. Additionally and unfortunately for marketers, the ability to skip ads as well as the introduction of forced viewing is actually eroding the consumer's relationship with advertising and the brands they love.



So the ultimate question still looms. Yes, consumers may be playing an ad or piece of video content, but are they watching, listening, paying attention, feeling differently about a brand and then acting as a result?

Google and TubeMogul are to be congratulated for advancing the digital video platform and have introduced to the IAB Digital Video Committee a new measure for adoption:

· CPV and User-Initiated - CPV pricing would apply to all video ads that are user-initiated, distinguishing ads that viewers choose to watch from those that simply load by default (auto-initiated) within a video player or on a page, which would continue to be priced in "impressions."

While this new standard will help to measure potential views, it does not prove that a consumer has actually watched the video content.

Here's a potentially more valuable measure that we feel is important for the entire online advertising community to adopt. This new measure is referred to as "user-verified," and asks viewers to actually prove they have watched a brand's video advertisement or sponsored content. We not only feel that this is more valuable, it is something that will be desired by the advertising community, because it measures actual views.

According to a study led by Dr. Keith Niedermeier(Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania) that was published in the International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, online type-in advertising -- a form of user-verified measurement that requires viewers to type in words or phrases that are part of the ad to prove that it has been watched-significantly increases brand and message recall.

The study found that user-verified, type-in ads achieved 65% brand recall and 35% message recall. These findings demonstrate how type-in or user-verified ads deliver double the brand recall and more than 11 times message recall, compared to 32.3% and 3.1% for static ads.

Our team found that user verification of brand videos also increases the click-through to 'calls to act' that accompany these videos, averaging just about 10% -- nearly 50x that of historical and expected click-through rates on all other platforms.

Professor Niedermeier's research is helping to further validate the case for a standard being created for user-verified advertising and adding this measurement to the Google and TubeMogul proposal. It should also be noted that the user-initiated measurement represents a highly valuable action taken by the consumer. In essence it tells the brand, "Yes, I saw your ad. I remember your brand. And I can prove it."

While we will join the chorus in letting the advertisers decide which measure is more valuable, I have a feeling the much higher brand recall, action and engagement will win this foot (print) race.

Welcome to the new age of video advertising online.

4 comments about "The Case For User-Verified Online Video Content Viewing".
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  1. Sarah W from x, March 29, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.

    This presents a strong case for better means of verifying that a brand's message is being delivered, but I have to wonder if this could backfire. Brand recall and message recall are being positively impacted by user verification as described, but how does it impact user experience? Does the user feel nagged or put-upon by being prompted to type in words for verification? Does a negative user experience in this verification process make that user feel negatively towards the advertised brand?

  2. Ruth Barrett from, March 29, 2011 at 1:10 p.m.

    Egaads. I've been doing a bit of this user-initiated measurement on Hulu and 98% of the ads are hawking products I have no need for, mostly drugs and cars (what's left?). The ads on my laptop are intrusive beyond the beyond because all the action and noise happens inches, not feet from my face. And the footprint that needs attention is the eco-one, you know, CO2 emissions and climate change. It will be interesting to see if there is support for this proposal.

  3. Abbott Wool from TelamericaMedia, March 29, 2011 at 2:33 p.m.

    Would have been more credible if the starting point for banner click-thru was corect. The latest Doubleclick ad benchmarks - usually considered authoritative - show overall click-thru at around 0.1%, an order of magnitude higher than cited.

  4. Richard Monihan, March 31, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.

    Interesting concept - a more interactive version of the People Meter, it seems. Since it requires viewer interaction my only question would be how inclined are viewers to respond, and does it make those who don't respond unmarketable?

    All views of ads on user-initiated video are valuable. While this concept should be tested, there still has to be a means of applying value to non-responsive viewers. As a friend of mine recently stated "I don't mind watching a 30 second ad before a video. If that's the cost of viewership, it's hardly intrusive."

    Not everyone feels this way, of course. But many do.

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