Commentary

Duration Weighting In Video Ad Measurement: Time Matters

I don’t agree with the notion that a screen is a screen is a screen, that video is video, and that all video ads across all screens should be measured or valued equally. Thus, I was happy to see the recent call for research into the topic of duration weighting in crossmedia video ad measurement by the Media Rating Council, arising from its work on audience-based measurement standards with the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Thank MRC’s George Ivie and Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Randall Rothenberg for their important industry leadership here.

Simply put, time matters. If we believe in the notion that advertising viewed, heard and experienced by audiences can cause people to change or affirm future buying behaviors, then we also have to assume that the opportunity for audiences to actually experience that advertising -- including how long the ads were or could have been viewed -- really matters. Here are some of my reasons why:

We have tons of data on the effectiveness of 15-, 30- and 60-second video ads. The television industry has supported multiple duration formats for decades, and the industry abounds with research and results of how ads can and do work differently for different campaign objectives depending on their length. Here are some great insights on the topic from ThinkBox. 

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More than zero doesn’t mean much of anything. Counting ads that are viewed for “more than zero” doesn’t sound like it is in anyone’s best interest, except for companies with a lot of ad viewership under one second.

Six seconds isn’t very much time, either. Forgetting for a moment whether ads viewable for 0.1 seconds can create any value, even six seconds of video ad duration is a pretty challenging format to create any real impact or engagement with a viewer. Not much time to tell a story.

Let’s let the research tell the story of time. Today, we have research tools and analytic capabilities to really drill down into the different impacts and potential of different types of ads on different marketing objectives. 

Concepts like “lift” and “incrementality” are no longer just theoretical notions, but are now highly measurable elements in advertising effectiveness. I hope that lots of folks answer the MRC and IAB's call for research here.

What do you think? Should duration matter in video advertising?

9 comments about "Duration Weighting In Video Ad Measurement: Time Matters".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 16, 2019 at 4:12 p.m.

    Absolutely, Dave. When "15s" at half the CPMs of "30s" came into vogue about 25 years ago, the recall studies showed that the shorter messages attained about 65-70% of the memorability of the "30s", hence they were proclaimed a great deal. As usual the gurus of the day ----and many "outsider' theorists---began to pontificate about the soon-to-be-real movement to even shorter messages as TV's 'Basic" ad unit---like "5s". But they failed to take into account the growth of ad message clutter that the shorter ads created and they also ignored the more relevant metric---motivating power. Many advertisers found that "15s" were fine---as reminders of longer messages but were insufficient in their own right to carry the full load of convincing a consumer to buy a product or service. As a result, even today, "30s" remain the most common TV commercial length and virtually nobody uses 5-second ads.

  2. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, May 16, 2019 at 4:18 p.m.

    The best way to test the effectiveness of any kind of advertising, and especially if you want to test the effectiveness of different length ads, different copy and different media, is to take out a calculator and use some easy-to-use advertising math I developed called "The Barrows Popularity Factor."
    The math will actually let you quantify the relationship between your advertising and sales and the math will give you more of the information you need to make key marketing decisions with far less risk. Businesses of all kinds can use the math to help them increase their sales, increase their profit and decrease their risk. 

  3. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, May 16, 2019 at 6:04 p.m.

    Thanks Ed, and really great point about the ad message clutter .... that is such a big issue with the shorter ads.

  4. Fred Sattler from Sattler Marketing & Media Services, May 16, 2019 at 7:26 p.m.

    An additional dynamic researchers found is that the first 5 seconds of a 15 or 30 is when the consumer orients, clears the cobwebs, and decides whether the message will be paid attention. As a result, you can typically convey only two copy points in a 15, less than half of the high-end of 5 copy points in a 30.
    The 5 or 6 second unit is yet another example of how the duopolists impose their will on an acquiescent industry.

  5. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 17, 2019 at 9:15 a.m.

    Not to worry, Fred. The 6-second spot is going nowhere for now ---except for those few advertisers who think saying "Hello" or "We are a swell brand" to consumers is effective motivational communication.

  6. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, May 17, 2019 at 9:19 a.m.

    Hear! Hear!

  7. Chris Pizzurro from Canoe, May 17, 2019 at 1:09 p.m.

    Yes, it matters, but the programmer or the tech companies should not be held responsible for 100% viewership duration to the ad. They can be held to making sure the ad got there and that full duration was possible, but actual duration should be the responsibility of the creatives.

  8. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 17, 2019 at 1:46 p.m.

    Of course, Chris. However the sellers should be responsible for ensuring that a video ad will run from start to finish on the user's screen and if not, they should not ask advertisers whose commercials could not have been seen to their full duration to pay for truncated exposures. In other words the same rules should apply for TV and digital.

  9. Tracey Scheppach from Matter More Media, May 17, 2019 at 5:40 p.m.

    Of course it matters!! Great initiative. Also don't overlook the power of interactivity to elongate the view time. Some interesting stats from Connekt (cool new linear interactivity company using smartTV's as thier platform) that interactivity adds 10+% viewing time vs the control with no interactivity. 

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