Commentary

Online Video: It's All In The Metrics

In 2005, a Dynamic Logic MarketNorms report certified that streaming video delivered nearly three times higher brand awareness and message association, and more than 100% higher purchase intent and online ad awareness than non-rich media ads. Small wonder that eMarketer said the category would grow to 71% last year, to $225 million.

However, when polled late in 2006 by Forrester Research, more than 80% of Web video viewers in the study called in-stream ads -- placements that appear before or after clips -- "annoying," and 75% claimed to ignore them.

What's going on here? Ian Schafer, CEO and founder of Deep Focus, writes that consumers don't like online video ads because they are "interruptive... often completely untargeted and irrelevant." He suggests making online video ads shorter, more relevant and less frequent.

First off, I think Ian (who is smarter than the average bear about online video) is right. Secondly, I take the Forrester results with a grain of salt, since consumers have claimed to hate TV commercials (and now online video) ever since they first appeared in the 1950s. Yet, those same commercials have moved trillions of dollars of product for marketers. Finally, I think we can learn a lot from the metrics underlying online video that will assure they have an impact on those ostensibly grumpy users.

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This is harder than it sounds. Publishers that try to collect a variety of performance metrics across rich media and video campaigns can run into inconsistencies and discrepancies. The same can be said when agencies distribute video assets to multiple Web sites and receive back a variety of different reports that can't be combined for a unified look at a campaign's performance. In other words, it is hard to fix something when you don't know which part of it is broken.

We can now gather, buy and sell side data on more than 100 unique interactions in every rich media ad such as multiple exit links, counters, timers and video metrics, so you can know how long each ad was displayed or how the viewer interacted with the ad. This sounds pretty basic, but getting a unified look at campaigns from both sides of the equation is otherwise nearly impossible. From the data we can begin to determine if there is a media problem (some sites just can't deliver the audience you need) or a creative problem (the ad doesn't engage long enough to deliver your brand message or the offer needs to be adjusted). For example, we know that the more ways you provide for the consumer to interact with your message, the longer they stay engaged. But wouldn't it be nice to know what interactive elements get their attention and which don't?

No one pretends that the online video industry has yet "arrived." But we are in the process of providing the diagnostics that will be essential to move the industry to the next level so that online sight, sound, motion and targeting deliver results that keep advertisers coming back for more.

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