There was an interesting piece in the FT this week from Robert Cookson regarding transparency around digital video views and moves by both global publishers [ Google and Facebook ] and global advertisers [Unilever, Kellogg ] to find a solution that delivers real accountability on the dollars invested to engage consumers with video ads.
There is no single viewability metric. Multiple standards exist – not just between YouTube and Facebook – but also among advertising organizations such as the IAB (50% of pixels in view for 2 seconds). From Pixability’s extensive work with brands on YouTube, we have found that YouTube’s definition of viewability aligns most closely with viewers actually watching content – hence its high viewability rate. YouTube’s single player per page format offers advertisers a very different ad impact compared to, say, a small video player in the sidebar of a website. But unsophisticated viewability metrics don’t account for this difference.
The practices of the industry for measuring viewability are incomplete and designed for display advertising, not video. For example, some vendors only measure a sample of impressions, not every single one, which is OK for a low CPM and high volume format like display ads, but far from ideal for video. Many vendors ignore sound, though data suggests that an ad that is just heard (e.g. as part of a music playlist) has a positive brand lift impact. It’s imperative that advertisers recognise the inconsistencies in viewability measurement, and understand the unique definition of viewability that each of their partners is using.
From my time in our beloved media industry I know one thing is for sure – we must all walk towards each other to find commonality in verification rather in opposite directions. YouTube seems to have nailed the ‘best in class’ approach by delivering TrueView to the market. Others who follow their lead are most likely to succeed.