Duration Weighting Could Lead To Better Creative

I don't comment much on media buying, but when I do, I think it’s important (says the least interesting person in the world). All that being said, I do think this discussion around duration weighting for video ads is a good conversation to be having.

And frankly, it's about time.

Digital media has long proclaimed its value as a branding vehicle in addition to direct response, which is sadly how most people still view it. I think this shift makes a lot of sense.

Way back in 2000, I pushed my media-buying team to do things like only pay for unique audience impressions and/or verified audiences. This was an attempt to shift the conversation away from performance pricing to valuing the eyeballs, but most publishers resisted.

We couldn't make it scale at that time, but eventually a number of advertisers did adopt versions of this into their buying models. This shift is similar in my eyes, but there is an additional benefit that I think may be overlooked.

Moving to duration weighting would actually provide the opportunity for the media and the creative to become more aligned again. For a video to be watched all the way through, the placement and audience certainly have to align, but the message itself must be engaging.



Basically, the creative has to be good.

If a marketer wants to push a publisher to price their inventory with a duration weighted approach, the publisher should have final call on whether the creative is any good or not.

If the creative sucks, the publisher should not allow that buying model. If the creative is strong, the publisher should consider it.

Too much online video creative is just repurposed TV creative, and too much TV commercial creative is not very good. 

The medium of digital provides more opportunity. If you want to see what can be done, look at the top YouTube stars and what they do. In my house, we watch a lot of “Dude Perfect.”

These guys have taken sports-oriented trick shots to an entirely new level and the way they leverage the medium is brilliant, which is why they did over $20 million in revenue last year (not bad for a bunch of dudes in Texas). 

They integrate humor and excitement, they bake in advertisers, and they use multiple methods of engaging their viewers.

I realize that the analogy of Dude Perfect to some standard CPG or Tech brand may be not be clear, but my point is to take innovation where you find it and try to apply the model to what you do. 

After all, there is rarely anything brand new anymore. It's all about repurposing what you see and applying it to a new place.

Duration weighting provides a unique chance for the publishers to have more involvement in what gets run on their platforms. 

In traditional TV, the network can say yes or no to ads because they want to maintain quality control over what their audience sees.

The same can be done online if this model gets adopted at all.

I am not pushing for it to be the only model, but I like the option for a media buyer to have this in their arsenal of tools to negotiate with, and I like the reciprocal value for the publisher. 

Online publishers fall into two camps these days.

They are either strong, well-branded publishers who can work directly with advertisers and command a premium, or they are programmatic. The former are few and the latter are broad.

I would think providing the few with the tools to create more value would be considered. Don't you?

4 comments about "Duration Weighting Could Lead To Better Creative".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, June 26, 2019 at 12:25 p.m.

    Cory, the TV networks have never evaluated TV commercials as regards their "quality" and rejected those that failed to pass muster---except for an occasional amateurish production. They were---and are---concerned primarily with truthfulness and ads that deliberately try to mislead consumers. If a commercial makes a questionable claim about the product/service that needs some sort of verification that's what they are looking for.

    As for duration weighting, as the MRC points out repeatedly--and correctly---on its website, this is not about "value", namely whether the viewer "watched" the commercial when it was on the screen, let alone its impact. We know from many observational studies that a fairly large part of the program audience--- but not all of it, Douglas----leaves the room or engages in distracting activities like second screen usage, eating, talking with family members, reading, etc. during commercial breaks and these types of avoidance are more prevalent when the breaks are extended with 8-10 or more separate messages. Such factors are not even considered in duration weighting so it's not going to be a boon for "creatives" who make more consumer-relevant commercials. That's not its purpose.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, June 26, 2019 at 6:48 p.m.

    Great post Cory.   

    But as Ed touches on, the sniff of a media owner adjudicating on the appropriateness or quality of the creative is a bit of a scary one.   Their responsibility is to run the ad in its entirety as per the booking, and to provide proof that it did run along with the audience estimate at the time that ad ran.

    Ed correctly emphasises that the MRC are not referring to "value" (i.e. CPM) but to "watched".   And in fact "watched" is more like "opportunity to be watched" with the final arbiter being the viewer.   If the viewer starts to watch the ad, or has seen it before and thinks 'that ad annoys me' and changes the channel then that is more the advertiser/creative agency's fault and not the broadcaster.

    To follow on to Ed's point even if 50% of people do leave the room or do other things during the ad break, changing the metric doesn't change the actual audience.   Yes, if it was 50% then the CPM would be 2X - but that doesn't change the ad's effectiveness one iota.

  3. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, June 27, 2019 at 10:35 a.m.

    Ed and John have nailed it!  However, John, "watched" infers exposure or contact (versus merely gross impressions or OTS) which are rarely reflected by media currencies at least in the US which are typically just gross impressions based. 
    These positions on Duration Weighting were also echoed by Nicholas Schiavone and Dorothy Higgins in their comments on earlier articles. Duration weighting has little to do with the ultimate campaign value or effectiveness and ANY attempts to link value with duration will be specious.  Hopefully the MRC Working Group on the Cross Media Audience Standards are listening?? 
    We all certainly understand the strong desire for a simple composite media metric that ties to campaign outcomes and effectiveness (per Joe Mandese).  However, if you fully understand the foundations of the ARF "Making Better Media Decisions" model it will be clear that campaign effectiveness and ultimately sales response is well beyond the media contribution.  Yes, the 1961 ARF model was revised in 2003. Yes, its tenants still hold in the digital age of 2019.  The only duration weighting that could be considered is whether the ad rendered fully on the required screen for the entire time as specified, i.e,  an ad "completion" index.  As you see in that recommendation, nothing about audience to the medium concerned nor audience exposure, nor campaign outcomes. QED?  Albeit with kudos to Ed and John. 

    Now let's ensure every medium is measured at the ad (or content) exposure or contact level for the universe of people (not devices) surveyed.  It would make media comparisons so much more meaningful.  

  4. John Grono from GAP Research replied, June 27, 2019 at 5:15 p.m.

    Tony, I just want to emphasise one thing that I posted in one of the many threads running at the moment.

    This current 'duration weighting' discussion is about measurings ad, and not about measuring programme content (i.e. the vehicle which carries the ad).

    When it comes to measuring the mediums content (e.g. a 30 minute or 60 minute TV programme or similar linear media) we need duration weighting otherwise we'd be trading on a reach number rather than the 'average audience' number.   That is the media owner is selling ad space within their content and selling it based on the average across the ad-breaks.   Reverting to selling/buying linear content on reach would be retrograde.

    That is, duration weighting must remain for programmes (i.e. long form) but would be overkill for ads (i.e. short form), especially as the identifying meta-data with online ads (e.g. key number, client, brand, campaign, agency, classification, duration), to the best of my knowledge, is not universally available.   Hence I think the 2-second threshold is currently the best path to follow for online ads.

Next story loading loading..