How to Measure ROI in Online Video

Let’s say you’re a media buyer. And you just plunked down client cash for some pre-roll spots in “What the Buck” on YouTube, a couple of new series on, and “Criminal Minds” on

Would you be able to report back to your client on whether the money was well spent?

Many media buyers say they can’t. At least not well. A just-released Casale Media  survey scored a lot of ink for its growth predictions of a 25% increase in digital video ad spend in the next year. But what’s really telling about the report is that difficulty in measuring ROI was cited as the top reason hindering online video growth, with 40% of respondents noting that it’s too hard to measure ROI for online video . Casale surveyed more than 150 media planners and managers from agencies and marketers.

Look, I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom because clearly all the signs point to more money being spent in online video, but if you can’t measure it, that’s a problem. Sure, we can all point out that TV isn’t terribly measurable, but TV is at least established. Online video has to be better, more airtight, and more data-driven as a newer medium to win the money. And while it can seem as if there are measurement tools galore — this percent of consumers watch this percent of ads on this percent of sites — the one that matters most is whether viewers are BUYING what you’re SELLING.

I asked Casale for more details on the ROI aspect, and the ad network shared some of the raw qualitative responses from buyers. These are worth checking out as they offer a window into an unfettered opinion on the challenges the business needs to overcome.


•  “We are not as good at this as we will be, we still have growing pain issues on optimizing, tracking, measuring, and delivering real back-end value.”

•  “Analyzing the direct impact is sometimes shaky. Optimization can also sometimes be a challenge.”

•  “Identification of digital video measurement metrics, tracking them and acting upon them is an emerging & challenging area.”

•  “It takes effort to measure the results.”


Maybe more attention needs to be paid on the front end to linking the buys to results. To better measure ROI, marketers should define up front what action they want users exposed to their ad to take, whether it’s sharing a video, registering for a promotion or making a purchase online, said Julia Casale-Amorim, chief marketing officer at Casale Media. Then, develop a model to calculate what those engagements are worth so the brand can measure ROI against a cost preview. Then, look for partners and platforms that can track those engagements and actions. That will be a step in the right ROI direction.

4 comments about "How to Measure ROI in Online Video".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Walter Sabo from SABO media, October 28, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.

    Question: Why would a brand spend money on a pre-roll with WHAT THE BUCK when you can put your brand INSIDE his video through HITVIEWS?

  2. Jeff Smith from Nielsen, October 28, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.

    You're right on target. Historically advertisers have struggled with measuring ROI for online brand advertising (and video is inherently a brand medium), as click-through rates are irrelevant to measuring the effectiveness of brand ads. And with the larger investment associated with video, this challenge is felt even more keenly. Our customers have addressed this issue by focusing on measuring and optimizing the traditional purchase funnel metrics – from building awareness to creating purchase intent and preference – as these are much more appropriate for brand advertising (and thus video) and provide a meaningful way to track and report on ROI.

  3. Arthur Mckinley from Weborama, October 31, 2011 at 2:35 p.m.

    Kantar Video is addressing the entire spectrum of online video research and measurement across Paid, Owned and Earned.

  4. Mary Vue from VideoGenie, October 31, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.

    Measuring ROI for online video is a new frontier. Along with disrupt technology, suppliers and users alike look for ways to explain ROI. The video online space challenges the marketer to take a hard look at engagement marketing and understand how engagement affects ROI.

Next story loading loading..