Cross-Channel Attribution Will Help Video Advertising Realise Its True Potential in 2014

Adit Abhyankar, Executive Director at Visual IQWhile video advertising has grown steadily across all markets, the influx of new ad formats, ad technologies and video publishers has created a degree of uncertainty about video’s role in the marketing mix. Big brands like to play it safe, and whether it’s buying on exchanges or Facebook’s new video formats, CMOs are going to want to know they’re getting bang for their buck. Here Adit Abhyankar, Executive Director at Visual IQ, explains how cross-channel attribution can fuel future growth in video advertising by demonstrating video advertising’s true value.

According to research from BrightRoll’s third annual UK Advertising Report 2013 was a standout year for online video in the UK. The report surveyed nearly 150 executives at top UK ad agencies, with almost a quarter (23 percent) believing that video is more effective than TV ads – a 29 percent increase from 2012 – while two in five (38 percent) think video ads are more effective than social media.

The survey also revealed that programmatic buying is on the rise, with advertisers adopting increasingly sophisticated targeting tactics, yet many agencies still believe that more research is necessary when it comes to measuring the performance of digital video ads compared to TV.

Measurement Can Accelerate Growth

Getting measurement right will be key to fuelling future growth in video advertising. Take Facebook for example. You just have to look at how Facebook have struggled to justify the merits of their display ads to realise how it’s going to be an uphill task for them to justify the cost of a Facebook video ad without a clear and accurate measure of effectiveness.

If we compare traditional TV advertising to digital advertising, marketers’ understanding of the former is relatively limited. TV is still seen as content that a cross-section of people watch, with advertisers having little idea of how audience pre and post broadcast behaviours are affected. In contrast, marketers have come to enjoy highly detailed measurement capabilities across digital channels – including ones that can identify specific behaviours at an individual level – and therefore ought to expect the same when it comes to video ads.

Continuing to use outdated measurement models, which restrict visibility of the impact digital video has on eventual conversions, serves only to oppress the true worth of the medium and its potential value. For digital video to realise its promise as the next major advertising opportunity, marketers need better ways to help measure its performance.

Viewability Still an Issue

This should start with solutions that answer one basic question: was the digital video ad ever actually viewed? Research from comScore on ad viewability suggests that over 50 percent of ads never even reach the point where they are physically viewed by the consumer, but the industry appears to be moving quickly on this, creating a viewable impression standard coupled with impression tracking tools.

Often, marketers test for effectiveness using a typical marketing A/B test. This is where business KPIs such as conversions or brochure downloads are assessed against two groups of consumers – for example, one which has been exposed to a video ad and one which has not – to ascertain which group converted at a higher rate. This process can be applied to gauge specific interactions with a video ad such as number of views, overall dwell time, and so on. Yet another approach involves correlating video ads with proxy brand metrics, such as the number of branded search terms or direct site visits over a period of time.

The Big Picture

By bringing these approaches like this together, cross-channel attribution can provide much needed visibility into the role video ads play. This is crucial for marketers looking to review the broader picture of a prospect’s conversion path and assess video’s influence on other channels, such as in-store foot traffic or the number of branded search queries. With advanced attribution, marketers gain even deeper insights into the overlap between their digital video advertising audiences and those of other channels to answer questions such as: what is truly unique reach? Which TV creatives and messages work best in driving cross-channel response? How long does it takes for awareness and demand to build before ad viewers eventually convert?

With full cross-channel attribution, advertisers can benefit from a platform where the optimum combinations and permutations of placements can be tested, and an assessment of the audiences, creatives and other attributes that drive the best results can be made. For only good measurement will enable marketers to truly realise just how powerful digital video ads can be.

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