How to save billions of dollars (currently being wasted on ineffectual ad spend)

Using metrics that don’t tell the whole story can cost you dear. Here are two ways to make sure you get more for your spend.

How to save billions of dollars (currently being wasted on ineffectual ad spend)

Advertisers need to review the standards by which they judge the effectiveness of their campaigns, says Ossie Bayram, UK Country Director at Ogury. And it’s urgent…

A concerning financial issue has appeared in the ad industry – at least $10bn is being wasted each year on video ads that are partially in-view. The standards that advertisers are currently settling for need to be urgently reviewed. 

This comes down to two key elements. The first, is the way brands measure the success of their ad campaigns through outdated metrics. The second, is by implementing formats that do not generate any attention.

Problem 1 – The Video Completion Rate [VCR] is a misleading KPI

The digital ad industry is one of the few to see a double-digit growth since the pandemic. Video is a key driver of this and there is a significant investment in outstream video formats – video ads embedded in a content page rather than integrated into streaming video content. While investment grows, brands are unaware of which best practices to follow to measure video campaign performance. 

The VCR is the main KPI brands use to do so, but it is deceptive. For example, when users set off an ad on mobile, they can just continue scrolling down the page – meaning that the video could be playing partially or even entirely off-screen. Why would brands use VCR as an indicator if they cannot confirm whether the video was in-view, or even playing off-screen? 

You’d never pay to have a billboard that’s stuck behind a tree, and the same should apply to digital video ads.

The growth of digital advertising means brands are accepting metrics for their campaigns that they would never consider for any other form of media. For example, you’d never pay to have a billboard that’s stuck behind a tree, and the same should apply to digital video ads. 

So, how should brands measure the success of their campaigns?

SOLUTION – Fully on-screen rate for 50% duration 

This metric tells you the percentage of impressions where 100% of pixels are in view for at least half of the video duration. The benefit is that it’s widely available via third-party measurers. They may have small alterations to the name, but they essentially mean the same thing. This metric can therefore be consistently and easily used throughout the industry. It is the outlying way to effectively measure the performance of advertisers’ video campaigns and should become the standard for online advertising players, no matter their partners or ad networks.

For proof, look to current ad spend. Advertising verification and measurement specialist Oracle Moat’s benchmark, published in Q4 of 2021, showed that generally, only 41% of mobile outstream video formats hit this measurement standard. By applying this to last year’s $17.3bn of outstream video ad spend in the US, it means that more than $10bn was squandered in video ads that were at least partially on-screen. 

Problem 2 – ‘Viewable’ does not mean ‘viewed’

The next problem addresses whether people are actually seeing the ad that brands invest so much money into. ‘Viewability’ was one of the first indicators in digital advertising, measuring the opportunity for an ad to be seen. The flaw here is that ‘viewable’ doesn’t automatically mean ‘viewed’, and can’t guarantee the ad was actually viewed or if it generated attention from the user. 

Viewability will soon fall by the wayside. Brands should be demanding more from their media, and while this is a first step in the right direction, it won’t be enough. Attention is becoming an increasingly important topic and will be the key outcome brands look for to measure campaign success. 

SOLUTION – Fully on-screen ad formats 

To generate attention, brands should consider ad formats developed to be fully on-screen, where 100% of pixels are in view the entire time of the video ad. Their non-intrusive nature gives greater control to the user, who can easily close them if they don’t appeal. However, if they keep watching, research shows that these formats are 5x more impactful on mobile while generating 36% more brand recall. The importance of brand recall to advertisers constitutes the basis for building brand awareness. It all begins with whether users paid attention to the message. If they didn’t, it won’t even be remembered. 

The investment from an advertiser on a video campaign with an A-list influencer will be wasted if the video is shown off-screen, with no users paying attention to it.

While the responsibility of the creative message lies with the brand, that’s not the case for making sure its message is displayed on-screen. The investment from an advertiser on a video campaign with an A-list influencer will be wasted if the video is shown off-screen, with no users paying attention to it.

Choosing fully on-screen ad formats grants advertisers the guarantee that their ad format will generate the highest level of attention possible by default. 

Brands and agencies need to reconsider how they invest in video ads. They must make sure that their messages are delivered through formats that are truly seen and generate attention, before measuring the campaign with a metric that truly reflects the ad’s impact.


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