Permission Advertising: How Skippable Video Ads Drive Media Value

The commercial as we know it is undergoing a metamorphosis. The seismic shift in viewing behavior from the single TV screen to multiple online screens is bringing about disruptive changes in advertising that affect everything from audience targeting and media buying (witness the rise of advanced audience segmentation, programmatic buying and real-time bidding) to creative strategy and personalization.

One technology often overlooked in today’s collective ad tech conversation is the skippable video ad. Much like the concept of permission marketing advanced by Seth Godin and others, skippable video ads constitute what amounts to permission advertising.

YouTube pioneered the concept of skippable ads with its TrueView format, introduced in December 2010, to support its cost per view (CPV) pricing model. The rest of the video ad industry sets its prices based on impressions, or how many times an ad is exposed to viewers. This has been the standard for 20 years in the digital display industry and for decades more in the television industry.



However, advertisers have questioned the verifiability and quality of video ad impressions—and ultimately, the value of impressions as a measure of engagement and basis for pricing. This has created an opportunity for a more valuable measure of engagement with video ads. Enter the qualified view.  

It's All About the View

YouTube's TrueView skippable ad format enables the viewer to skip a video ad after five seconds. The advertiser is not charged if the viewer does not watch the full ad, or 30 seconds, whichever comes first.

The value of the full view is profound. In a world where television ad performance is measured by projecting the number of times a commercial is exposed to an audience whose size and composition is extrapolated from a miniscule sample, the ability to track the exact number of times a micro-targeted audience watches a commercial all the way through is nothing short of the holy grail for brands.

A viewer who chooses to watch a full video ad is a highly qualified viewer. Research shows that a viewer who decides to watch a skippable video ad is 75% more engaged than a viewer forced to watch a standard non-skippable ad. That viewer may be in-market already, or the ad may itself trigger the viewer's intent to purchase and establish strong consideration for the advertiser's brand.

Anecdotally, we've seen these highly-qualified views dramatically drive up natural brand search activity—from 60 to 300% locally—during video ad campaigns run for clients on YouTube.

But Wait, There's More

Even viewers who opt to skip an ad watch part of it. And because the technology allows us to measure exactly how many of them watch how much of the ad, we can assign specific added value to those partial views based on the cost per full view.

Remember, in YouTube's model, the advertiser doesn't pay for partial views unless they occur beyond the 30-second mark of an ad. Indeed, these partial views represent what has always eluded advertisers who strove to assign real value to impressions:

Partial Views = Qualified Brand Impressions

Here's a real world example. A recent four-week video ad campaign for a national brand delivered 218,142 full views at an average cost of $0.14 per view. However, it also delivered the following partial views:

  • 91,165 watched 75% of the ad
  • 89,652 watched 50% of the ad
  • 244,050 watched 25% of the ad and
  • 184,111 watched at least 5 seconds of the ad, but less than 25% of it

Using the $0.14 cost per full view as a basis, we determined a value for these partial views of $29,545. Advertisers receive added value like this in every skippable video ad campaign. We presume that these qualified brand impressions along with the full views measurably contribute to brand awareness and familiarity.

And the Clicks Are Free

Another measure of customer engagement is the free clicks video advertisers receive. In the example above, the national brand received 4,400 clicks through to the company's Facebook page to earn a chance for a free year's supply of product. Advertisers with strong offers and calls to action in their video ads greatly benefit from these customer engagements and convert clicks to leads or buyers with their follow up.

While free clicks-through are not exclusive features of skippable video ads, best practices recommend placing calls to action very early in the ad to quickly engage the viewer before five seconds elapse and the skip ad feature activates.

The Rewards of Permission Advertising

Video ads are inherently interruptive—except when viewers are receptive to them. Then viewers perceive them as interesting, informative, even entertaining.

So it follows logically that engagement is higher among those viewers who choose to watch skippable ads through to completion. If you’re shown a non-skippable ad that has no current relevance for you, you’re more likely ignore it or do something else while it plays.

The rewards of permission advertising go beyond the economics of paying only for full views. By enabling viewers to skip their video ads, advertisers:

  • Highly qualify and engage viewers,
  • Establish real added monetary value for skipped views as “qualified brand impressions,” and
  • Drive customer engagement through clicks and other in-market actions such as brand name local searches.
1 comment about "Permission Advertising: How Skippable Video Ads Drive Media Value".
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  1. Steve Givens from Harte-Hanks, May 24, 2014 at 1:40 p.m.

    This information is spot on and highly relevant with today's engaged consumer. Consumer don't want to be forced to view any type of ad and are more incline to have a positive brand experience if they are given the option skip video ads. Bottom line, Consumer want to be engaged by brands on their terms not yours!

    Steve Givens
    Harte Hanks

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