The growth of online video consumption is staggering, and continues to show no sign of slowing down. With YouTube and Facebook alone, well over five billion videos are watched every single day.
Given the rapid growth, it’s no surprise that brands and advertisers have quickly adapted to using video ads as the means of reaching and connecting with consumers. To measure their investment in these video ads, most advertisers are using the easiest and most simple way they know - counting video views - but the number of times a video was watched, whether partially or in its entirety, doesn’t actually mean much. Pre-roll is the most common way advertisers are buying video ads today. However, according to a study by research firm MetrixLab, 94% of viewers skip pre-roll ads. For the few consumers who don't skip the ad, more often than not they are simply ignoring it. So how much weight should an advertiser place on the value of video views?
As video advertising technology continues to evolve, advertisers should shift the focus to video engagements rather than views.
Video engagements refer to the actions viewers take while watching a video ad. These actions can come from a broad range of events across the sales funnel, from social sharing to click-to-call, lead generation or to an actual purchase.
Why is tracking engagement so important? By tracking the actions viewers take while watching videos, advertisers can gain deep insights into how, when and where they can most effectively use videos ads to drive ROI.
Tracking Video Engagements? Three Things to Keep in Mind
1. Not all distribution channels were created equal.
With a pre-roll ad you’re interrupting the viewing experience so you need to make sure your content and call-to-actions stand out. Additionally, as most pre-roll ads are only 15-30 seconds in duration, having resident call-to-actions within the video-viewing window is an effective way to increase engagements.
Brands and marketers often find that using video ads on social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, are much more effective in terms of driving video engagements, since these platforms are generating more native viewing experiences. To quantify this example, average engagement rates seen by our clients using interactive pre-roll are generally between 1-2% versus social video ads, which are between 20-30%.
There are several factors that influence why social video ads produce higher engagements rates. Since users opt in to watch videos on social, they’re already expressing an interest, presenting a greater opportunity to drive further engagements. Additionally, social video ads allow brands to use long form content. Although video completion rates may decrease, we’ve found that viewers who spend more time watching videos have a correspondingly higher engagement rate.
2. It’s a mobile first world out there.
YouTube recently announced that more than half of their video views now come from mobile devices. Just before that, Facebook announced that 66% of their revenue was coming from mobile ads. With this in mind, it’s critical to make sure the viewer's experience is optimized to the device they’re using and that engagements are tailored to that experience. Even within operating systems, device types function differently. For example, on iPhones the video opens in a new window, which means you need to plan your call-to-actions before or after the video. Whereas on iPads, the video plays in-line, giving you more options to drive engagements during the video view.
3. Analytics should help tailor your actions.
As with any media spend, it’s critical to understand how your videos are performing. Since the ultimate goal is to measure engagements and not just views, make sure your analytics tools can capture every action that occurs within the video including by distribution network, device type, time spent watching the video, completion of call-to-actions, etc. Once you have this data collected, make sure you have a system that can churn out actionable advice to improve performance based on this data.
Overall, the ability to create and measure interactive videos ads quickly, coupled with the increase in digital video consumption habits, points to the rising trend in how marketing dollars have shifted towards digital video and will continue to in 2015. Smart advertisers will capitalize on this trend and will be the ones that start driving meaningful engagements from their videos long after consumers clicked play on their video.