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YouTube Clears Up Metrics Mess by Focusing on These Three Stats

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YouTube is adding three basic stats to its analytics dashboard for advertisers tracking their campaigns.
YouTube is adding three basic stats to its analytics dashboard for advertisers tracking their campaigns. Credit: 4kodiak/iStock
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YouTube is looking to clear up some of the metrics mess for advertisers by focusing its attention on three data points: Unique reach, watch time and audibility.

These are the keys to a full understanding of how a YouTube campaign performs, and the site is now including those basics in digital reports it gives marketers.

"These are the core things marketers really need to focus on," said Debbie Weinstein, global managing director for YouTube and video solutions. "We are trying to help them understand what really matters."

On Monday, YouTube announced it would update its reporting with these metrics during Europe's Advertising Week.

The changes come as the ad industry tries to get a better account of digital ads and the media supply chain. Brands want to know when their campaigns run as planned across all digital properties, and get accurate measurements.

There has been a push from all the major platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to give more options for marketers to verify the quality of their ad runs. But that also has led to metrics overload and confusion among advertisers that are swimming in stats.

YouTube is emphasizing unique reach, as in the number of individuals who saw an ad; watch time, which shows how many seconds are spent with an ad in total and on average; and audibility, or how often it plays with sound.

Sound has become an important sticking point for brands that are dealing with mobile consumption, which often occurs with sound off depending on the platform.

YouTube says that 60% of its videos are viewed on mobile devices and 95% are audible.

YouTube says that the mobile experience helps lead to a 93% viewability rate for video ads.

The new metrics in the YouTube reporting had been available to brands that use third parties and other measurement techniques, but now they come standard in the analytics dashboard.

Unilever shared the stage with Google at Advertising Week to discuss metrics and viewability.

"For Unilever, 100% is the only acceptable viewability metric and Google is on this path," said Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer, in prepared remarks. "Research [from YouTube] clearly shows that those ads that are experienced in full by consumers perform better and drive brand performance. Further proof that we need to get this right."

Besides measurement and viewability, YouTube has been dealing with brand issues over the past week. It's faced some advertiser unease over brand safety after ads were found to run near inappropriate content.

The company said it would be taking new steps to also make sure brands can say where their ads run, but that could prove difficult on such a large platform with such diverse content.