The weather may be cooling down, but the digital video space is only getting hotter. In recent months, AOL bought Adap.TV, YuMe went public, and DG doubled down their digital video business by spinning off their linear TV assets to Extreme Reach. Even digital media behemoth Facebook entered the game, announcing plans to launch a digital video platform.
For marketers, Facebook entering the market could seem like a holy grail: huge reach and very precise targeting. But in practice, it raises a major conundrum.
On one hand, marketers will be seeking to measure digital video much in the same way they have TV for years—knowing what a group of people are viewing at a given point in time, but with little to no understanding of how that translates into those individual’s behaviors before and after. On the other hand, marketers have come to enjoy very detailed measurement capabilities on digital channels—ones that can identify the specific behaviors at the individual level—and will expect the same of digital video.
This disconnect is likely to prevent marketers from recognizing digital video’s true value, especially if they are using outdated measurement models that prevent them from understanding the influence digital video has on eventual conversions. And if they are chasing other proxy brand metrics without un-duplicating audience reach across advertising platforms, they will not know how much of their digital video audience engagement is incremental and how much they would have gotten anyway. It’s the equivalent of having a bazooka in your arsenal, but only thinking you have something as powerful as a water gun.
Without a clear and accurate read on its effectiveness, marketers will have an extremely hard time justifying the cost of Facebook video, a troubling scenario given advertisers are still trying to justify display ads on the relatively new platform.
For digital video to truly take off as an advertising opportunity, there needs to be better ways for marketers to measure its performance.
This should start with solutions that answer a seemingly fundamental, yet often confounding question: Was the digital video ad ever even seen? Research from comScore on ad viewability data suggests that roughly 50 percent of ads never have an opportunity to be seen by a consumer. Moves by the industry to create a viewable impression standard—coupled with tools that track said impressions—provide a major step in the right direction.
Often marketers test for effectiveness by comparing a business KPI (such as conversions, or brochure downloads) for those who were exposed to the video ad with those who were not exposed, to see if those who were exposed converted at a higher rate. This is often referred to as an A/B test. This process can be applied not just to whether an ad was viewed but also to specific engagement with the video ad, such as time viewed. Yet another approach involves correlating video ads viewed with proxy brand metrics, such as the number of branded search terms or direct site visits over a period of time.
To bring all of these approaches together in a holistic way, cross-channel attribution can provide visibility into the role the channel is playing in the grand scheme of a prospect’s conversion path and its influence on all other channels, such as in-store foot traffic and number of branded search queries. With advanced attribution, advertisers and marketers can also dig layers deeper to discover the overlap between their digital video advertising audiences and those of their other channels to understand, for example, what is truly unique reach; how long it takes for people exposed to their messaging to build awareness, demand and eventually convert; and exactly which TV creatives and messages work best in driving cross-channel response. With cross channel attribution, advertisers have a platform where they can test many more permutations and figure out exactly which combinations of placements, audiences, creatives and other attributes drive the best results
Ultimately, the basic building block for making good marketing decisions is having good measurement. Digital video—whether on Facebook or other digital platforms—will only take off once the industry can put the right processes in place for demonstrating just how impactful a weapon it can be. And once a brand figures out how to effectively put that weapon to use, they can replicate those time and again. Only then will both marketers and Facebook reap the true benefits of the rise of digital video.