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Video Viewability: What It Is and Why It Matters to Marketers

Posted by Chris Finan on August 18, 2014 at 3:21 PM

What is video viewability?Though video viewability simply sounds like an abstract measurement of how entertaining an online video is, it's actually a metric that content publishers and advertisers use to measure the success of a video-based ad campaign. Even if you've never heard this term before (it is relatively new), this concept is already changing the way that ad inventory is bought and sold, and it's something all marketers should be aware of.

Measuring Ad Effectiveness

Essentially, this metric measures whether visitors to any given Web page are viewing sponsored video content. A video ad passes the video viewability test if at least 50 percent of it is visible on a user's screen for two consecutive seconds. So, if for instance, a if video ad is playing in subprime advertising space on a page and fails one or both of these viewability tests, advertisers won't have to pay for it, saving them money on noneffective ads.

The Push From Advertisers

In a statement made to the Wall Street Journal, Barry Lowenthal, president of ad agency The Media Kitchen, said, "Video viewability is important — just like viewability for digital media is important." Advertisers would welcome a video viewability standard that is longer than the currently agreed-upon two consecutive seconds, as this could give them an easy way to cut costs and maximize value for money spent on video advertising campaigns.

The Problem for Publishers

Though advertisers see video viewability standards as an effective way to measure ad efficiency and see which publishers can deliver the best value for their content, publishers face a unique problem when it comes to this metric: variable measurement. Because this concept is so new, viewability scores can vary across the board, which can lead to some serious issues for publishers when it comes to using video ads as a steady revenue source. Brian Fitzgerald, president of Evolve Media, spoke to Digiday recently, commenting, "If I am held accountable based on an unaccredited vendor that doesn't have the proper technology to accurately measure my media, then I am being held to an impossible standard and ultimately being unfairly penalized."

The problem is that situations may arise in which publishers and advertisers use two different viewability measuring vendors and end up with two different viewability scores. Depending on which vendor returns the higher score, publishers may feel pressure to raise or lower rates, which can make video ads a very unstable (and undesirable) revenue source.

The idea of measuring video viewability metrics certainly has merit, but there are some real technical concerns that publishers have to work out when it comes to setting an absolute standard that can deliver a consistent and reliable revenue stream. One thing that can be agreed upon by both publishers and advertisers, is that the video advertising industry continues to evolve at a rapid clip, and having a marketing partner that knows how to navigate these ever-changing trends is key to success.


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Topics: Digital Marketing Strategy, Video Advertising

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