A few weeks ago, the online advertising industry was abuzz with news that Facebook had been misreporting video view numbers for over 2 years. “We recently discovered an error in the way we calculate one of our video metrics. This error has been fixed, it did not impact billing, and we have notified our partners both through our product dashboards and via sales and publisher outreach. We also renamed the metric to make it clearer what we measure. This metric is one of many our partners use to assess their video campaigns.”. The result of this error is that certain metrics such as Average Duration of Video View (Completion Rates) were heavily skewed. Understandably, marketers responsible for optimization of media spend were upset at the misleading results and many have called for 3rd party independent verification in the Facebook Advertising Platform. Significant budget may have been shifted (or paused) had the true numbers been calculated and reported on. While I understand the frustration, I see this as a symptom of a much greater and widespread problem in the online video advertising industry that needs to be addressed- using the wrong metrics to measure success.
At Viewbix we are very focused on understanding the goal of a campaign before discussing creative options. When speaking with potential customers of the Viewbix platform a typical conversation goes something like this:
Viewbix: “Can you tell us what the goal of this video campaign is. What is it you are trying to get users to do?”
Customer (choose a response):
- “We are trying to drive users to a landing page”
- “We are trying to get users to use the store locator tool”
- “We are trying to get users to sign up for our newsletter”
Viewbix: “That’s great and – how are you measuring success”
Customer: “Video completion rate”
At this point in the conversation we generally remain quiet for a few seconds, put on our puzzled face, and let this sink in with the customer. You are launching a video ad campaign with a goal of increasing X and you are measuring success by how many Y’s. There is a complete disconnect between the business requirement and the KPI.
To be fair, until recently marketers had little choice and few tools for measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns, and were forced into the 25/50/75/100 view rates as the sole metric available to them. But times have changed and video marketers must learn to evolve and take advantage of the new tools available to the market. These tools are focused on driving (via interactive units) and measuring (via advanced analytics) “True Success”. Companies such as Viewbix, Innovid, and Brainient have introduced platforms that allow video advertisers to create interactive video ads that engage users and lead them to a true KPI. These platforms not only focus on creating interactive video but also provide analytics well beyond those available in traditional ad servers and report on what in-ad interactions are working and which should be swapped out.
The re-education process is not limited to video pre-roll (or Facebook video marketing). At Viewbix we have seen the same problem with on-site video in the Enterprise markets. Companies invest large budgets on onsite video production, place a video prominently on their web site, but neglect to have any call to action viewable during the video view. These companies also fall into the quartile trap and measure success by completion rates rather than actions taken. We have addressed this by working with the large OVP’s such as Kaltura and Brightcove and created plugins to those systems that allow for adding in video apps and calls to action for onsite video solutions to help marketers drive user engagement.
I am not playing down the importance of the Facebook reporting error. However in my opinion had marketers been looking at the correct KPI there would have been very little “real” effect. Let’s look at the following campaign examples focused on driving email signups both before and after Facebook’s reporting “fix”.
Campaign Before Fix:
Video Views: 25,000,000
Avg. Completion Rate: 80%
Email Signups: 50,000
Campaign After Fix:
Video Views: 25,000,000
Avg. Completion Rate: 20%
Email Signups: 50,000
For marketers looking at completion rates the effect is devastating. However, the goal of this campaign is email signups – so if we look at the “True Success” KPI of Signup per Video View the campaign performance is identical!
Transparency is always beneficial but let’s not divert attention away from the real problem – the use of wrong KPI’s in measuring success. With the introduction of powerful Interactive video ads and advanced analytics we have the opportunity to change how the industry evaluates campaign effectiveness and measures “True Success”