10 Metrics Every Video Advertiser Should Measure

Editor's Note: This classic Video Insider first posted Jan. 24, 2014.

Despite huge technological advances in the buying, selling, and targeting of digital video ads in the past five years, most video marketing strategies seem to dwell in the digital dark ages of 1999. Brand advertising decisions are still based on basic delivery metrics like impressions and clicks -- even though these metrics are woefully inadequate when it comes to constructing an accurate picture of whether or not a video marketing campaign is actually working.

The result of relying on outmoded and limited metrics is dire. Marketers unknowingly waste billions of dollars each year on video ads that, in many cases, aren’t being seen by consumers. Needless to say, if a marketer pays for an ad impression that nobody sees, it’s impossible for that impression to materially move the ROI needle for their brand.



Two years ago, most video marketers were almost exclusively focused on click-through rates. Sure, video CTRs are higher than banner CTRs, but what does that prove in the context of brand marketing? Isn’t it possible that a large number of clicks are the result of consumers simply looking for a pause, close or mute button? Clicks are great for moving consumers down a direct-response funnel toward some kind of conversion, but most digital video ads are branded television creative running across connected devices -- not online call-to-action campaigns.

2013 was the year of the completion rate. This is a great foundational metric that allows marketers to know, at the very least, that their video assets are being played in a video player somewhere online. It’s a good start, but the completion rate on its own is simply not enough. Video is the king of brand marketing formats, so let’s start treating it that way.

Here are 10 metrics that every marketer should measure for every video campaign:

1. Reach. It’s essential for marketers to measure the total number of unique consumers exposed to their ad campaigns because this defines the audience that is being influenced to consume and share a brand. Reach is the foundation of scale.

2. Frequency. The number of times a consumer is exposed to an ad campaign has a huge impact on that consumer’s likelihood of processing and retaining a brand’s message. Different messages resonate with different consumers at different frequencies of repetition. This is not a one-size-fits-all metric. Greater frequency does not always equal greater effectiveness. In fact, excessive frequency can actually harm the way a brand is perceived.

3. Gross Rating Points (GRP). The GRP factors in reach and frequency to give context to a marketing campaign’s piece of its relevant media universe. The GRP quantifies the size of a brand’s slice of the overall audience-attention pie. It’s the TV marketer’s audience measurement metric of choice. 2014 will mark a new era when this decades-old metric becomes standardized as digital currency. A unified approach to audience measurement across all video channels is a key requirement for garnering both understanding and trust from traditional TV marketers.  

4. Demographics. It’s critical for marketers to understand exactly who their marketing message is reaching.  Age, gender and household income are solid foundational pieces of the demographic composition puzzle, but there’s always more to be discovered. Good marketers always push to understand what’s unique about their brand’s target audience. Any opportunity to measure or target a custom demographic segment should always be explored.

5. Time spent. Consumer attention is the single most valuable currency there is. Measuring the exact amount of time a consumer spends with an ad is the only way for marketers to truly understand exactly how much attention is focused on their brand message.  

6. Completion rate. Every ad impression is an opportunity for a consumer to watch an entire video ad through to its end. It’s essential to measure the number of times video creative is consumed in its entirety.

7. Drop-off point. Let’s face it, every video ad impression does not result in a completion. Not even close. For those consumers who do not watch an entire video ad, knowing the exact point in the creative that lost their interest is essential. This is the drop-off point.

8. Brand lift. Nobody buys a bag of chips or a new car via the Internet. Clearly, video ads can psychologically influence these purchases offline. Savvy marketers understand that it’s critical to measure the true impact of their ads by constantly gauging the audience’s perception and retention of a branded message. Brand lift quantifies the influence that a video ad has on a consumer’s perspective about a brand and its message.

9. Optimal frequency. The intersection of brand lift and frequency tells a very powerful story. Not all brands or even video creative are equal. Optimal frequency tells the marketer exactly how many times a consumer needs to be exposed to a campaign, or a specific video creative, to achieve maximum brand lift.

10. Viewable CMP. While the viewable impression has not become currency yet, the writing is on the wall. Marketers know that paying for an ad impression that nobody sees is the very definition of wasted media budget. The vCPM is the true CPM. Dividing the budget spent by only viewable impressions is a powerful way for marketers to gauge the true cost of reaching real consumers.

By always measuring these 10 metrics, video marketers can finally see the big picture as well as the detailed minutiae that allows them to make smart planning, buying and optimization decisions.
9 comments about "10 Metrics Every Video Advertiser Should Measure ".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, January 24, 2014 at 5:21 p.m.

    As it has always been Avi. Without reach you have masses of people you can't talk to. Without frequency those you reach may not get your message. GRPs ... well that comes with getting the reach and the frequency correct. Then of course make sure you target correctly (but that should have been done with steps 1 and 2). Time spent - well that is already built-in to TV ratings (average minute ratings of a programme). Ditto completion rate. I'll stop there ... but isn't that how we've bought media for decades and decades? And I don't mean just TV. These principles apply to all media in Communications Planning. Sure the metrics available for each medium can be slightly different, but if you have Reach and Frequency then you can plan a campaign - the rest is just finery.

  2. Joe Kelly from Triad Consulting Corporation, January 24, 2014 at 6:19 p.m.

    What about frequency distribution? Average frequency by itself can be very misleading.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, January 24, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

    Agreed Joe. Downunder when we speak 'frequency' we mean the frequency distribution (e.g. 1+, effective frequency band etc.).

  4. Avi Brown from BrandAds, January 27, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.

    John, Joe, you both make great points about strategically planning an effective campaign. The nuanced difference here is that my list above is about the realtime measurement of a campaign while it's running. Brand marketers are beginning to embrace a more agile approach to media buying, which requires realtime data and insights that drive mid-flight optimizations in service of progressively increasing ROI. Reach and Frequency, while very important, are simply not enough anymore. Understanding the intersection of brand lift and frequency, for example, informs the most efficient frequency for maximum ROI. Similarly, vCPM will become a means for measuring outright budget wasted. This applies to digital video today, but will likely factor into time-shifted TV consumption in the future. Data-driven marketers thirst for insights that they can take action against. Planning wisely is hugely important, but ignoring the results of a campaign while it's running is no longer an option - given the technology available today.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, January 27, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

    Interesting Avi, that you juxtapose "realtime measurement of a campaign while it is running" with "understanding the intersection of brand lift and frequency". That is, you seem to be saying that you can accurately measure brand lift in real time. In my humble experience brands are built over time and in the case of many brands it is years if not decades. There is currently an obsession with real-time measurement that I believe flies in the face of persistent and dogged brand marketing whose sales impacts won't be in that month, probably not in that quarter, may start to show up within the year, and for some may not even be within the forward forecasts. By the way, overnight TV data does just fine for 'real-time' unless you are in a pre-empt budding market. I agree that monitoring campaign results is a mandatory in the current market - but attributing all sales to the medium that can deliver real-time data (often merely a cohort for other marketing activities) is a fool's paradise.

  6. Avi Brown from BrandAds, January 27, 2014 at 3:44 p.m.

    John, I appreciate your perspective, but don't you believe that technology will inevitably make all media channels addressable in real-time? Some TV inventory is already becoming programmatically purchasable and the very definition of TV is changing to device-agnostic content (see Netflix winning Emmys and Golden Globes). It's not a huge stretch to imagine budget reallocation being equally addressable based on a cross-channel data feedback loop. Even brick and mortar promotions will become real-time in the next few years as hyperlocal mobile evolves via initiatives like iBeacon. To me, it seems like your thesis is that things aren't going to change. My thesis is that it already has and the rate of change is increasing exponentially. And yes, we absolutely measure brand lift in real-time and can even attribute it to specific video creative and segment it by demographic. As Bob Dylan once sang...

  7. John Grono from GAP Research, January 27, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.

    I'm sorry Avi, but I don't see that "all" media channels will be addressable in the foreseeable future. I do see that the electronic media will in the main but not in entirety. For example, while 'electronic paper' is a possibility I can't see the commercial side of things making that a reality. Here in Australia, physical newspapers are struggling financially, and online newspapers are growing strongly (pity about the ability to leverage the eyeballs). But in a population of 23 million we still buy 18 million newspapers a week - not bad for a dying medium. Of course I see tablet versions as being huge in the future - especially for magazines, and yes they can be addressable. But I think what you have missed is the difference between device addressability and person addressability. Take 'loungeroom' televisions. They are in the main shared devices - well at least in 'family' viewing time (definitely different to the '50s when there was on TV set on proud display). You simply do not know 'who' or 'how many' are viewing at that IP address (or indeed if anyone is). So how are you targeting? Fortunately I fall into the 'school or persuasion' regarding households - you don't have to target the grocery buyer (for example) if you get the kids who will pester their mother to buy the latest 'must have product'. But ... that is as it has always been. Further, while you may know a lot about that TVs IP address and activity, what do you know about the couple of iPads in that home? Or the plethora of smartphones? Or the Kindle that is used for reading. Or that digital radio? And how these people interacted with the outdoor advertising (which is increasingly digital, can be geographic and time-based, but hardly targeted)? What we need is a set of common marketing based metrics that span all media so that all marketing levers are - at a base entry level - measured equally and fairly. Yes, as the great RZ sang ... the times they are a changing. And you know what ... he's right and I believe that they will continue to change and we will see a swing back to effective mass marketing - read Byron Sharp of Ehrenberg-Bass's book How Brands Grow to see and understand the behaviours of brands that are massively effective as opposed to massively efficient. Also don't forget what Einstein once said ... not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that can be measured matters. We have a surfeit of data which everyone seems to take great pride in (my data is bigger than your data!) but when you boil it all down, only a small sliver of that data is needed - identifying that sliver is the hard bit, but I do know that for every brand Occam's Razor will apply. Big data is changing much faster than brands and consumers are - an indicator that the tail is wagging the dog.

  8. Avi Brown from BrandAds, January 27, 2014 at 8:57 p.m.

    John, I couldn't agree more about the need for cross-channel standardized metrics. I'd love to keep this conversation going. I just sent you a LinkedIn request. Fresh and different perspectives are my lifeblood!

  9. John Grono from GAP Research, January 27, 2014 at 9:30 p.m.

    Invitation duly accepted. Let's take this offline so we don't bore everyone else within an inch of their lives!

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