New metrics for online video ads

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As online video advertising becomes more widespread, marketers and industry organizations are defining which metrics to use to measure the effectiveness of the new medium.

Last month, the Interactive Advertising Bureau released broadband video commercial measurement guidelines at the IAB Leadership Forum in New York.

The guidelines were developed by the IAB's broadband committee and measurement task force, and are designed to help standardize online video ad measurement.

A "broadband video commercial" is defined as a commercial that may appear before, during and after various content, including streaming video, animation, gaming and music video content in a player environment.

Buffer vs. Browser

The definition includes broadband video commercials that appear in live, archived and downloadable streaming content. According to the guidelines, measurement of broadband video commercials should only occur when the ad begins to appear on the user's browser, rather than when the buffer is initiated. The guidelines also encourage publishers to adopt the strongest possible filtration techniques to remove nonhuman activity such as spiders and robots from measurement data.

"These guidelines, which promote consistent and reliable broadband advertising, are a clear indication of the maturing of the interactive industry as a whole," said Bob Liodice, president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, which provided input on the guidelines.

While the guidelines present a broad framework for measuring online video ads, marketers and online video ad companies are using a wide variety of metrics to gauge the effectiveness of campaigns.

Accela Communications, which delivers long-form video content in banner ads for clients, reports such metrics as number of viewers, length of viewing time, interactions with the player (such as fast-forwarding or rewinding) and streaming speed.

While IAB requires that viewers should be counted once the ad starts appearing, Accela starts counting viewers after they have been viewing the ad for at least 15 seconds, said Ann Roskey, VP-marketing and audience development at Accela. That's because the AccelaCast inBanner system, which delivers video content in banner ads, is set up with measuring points (called telemetry points) that automatically collect data on user interactions every 15 seconds.

The average video program length is 9.5 minutes and the average viewing time is 4.6 minutes, based on a study of recent AccelaCast inBanner ad campaigns, Roskey said.

For example, IBM Corp. developed a 26-minute video ad about IBM Tivoli's approach to IT service management, and Cisco Systems created a three-minute video ad featuring executive interviews. "The longer-form content is going to be really effective when there is a complex topic that needs to be discussed, such as technology, health care or medical science," Roskey said.

Advertisers are also using traditional brand metrics, such as brand awareness and brand favorability, to measure the effectiveness of online video ads.

HP tests ads

Last year, Hewlett-Packard Co. conducted a test of online video ads running on MSN Video Player. The test, conducted by research company Millward Brown, included two executions of ads for the HP Photosmart printer. It found that brand awareness increased an average 11% among viewers exposed to the online video ads.

The most significant increases were reported among viewers that had been exposed to the ad three or four times. Brand favorability increased an average 7%, with the highest increases reported at five or more exposures to the ads.

HP also tested the effectiveness of online video ads compared with traditional TV spots. It found that TV spots and online video ads were equally effective at generating brand interest.

The study, in which two groups of users were shown 30-second TV spots and online video ads that were identical in content, found that 84% of those exposed to TV spots believed the ads contained new information, compared with 83% of those exposed to online video ads. Also, 77% of those exposed to TV spots felt the ads were believable, compared with 76% of those exposed to online video ads.

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