There’s a bit of a culture clash when it comes to online video advertising. The traditionally creativity-driven TV advertising industry seems tempered by the conservatism derived from the click-through culture of the online advertising industry.

Whilst IAB figures show that two thirds of UK marketers are “planning to” increase their online video ad spend in 2011, marketers require statistical proof that the formats work before they take the plunge.

However much they want something different, something creative, something unique – something “cool” – any innovations need to be reliable. The only thing that’ll prove reliability is numbers. That said, whilst the video advertising industry has made great strides in becoming more accountable, marketers are inexperienced in using this data because they’re faced with new metrics from a new format.

If digital media planners and buyers remain focused solely on click-through rates when assessing an online video advertising campaign, well, they just don’t get it. Likewise TV advertisers need to get out of the gross ratings points mindset when evaluating online video. There’s so much more to it than just views and clicks.

Online video ads can incorporate a wide range of interactive elements – including short and long form video, online games, product demos and social media functions – delivering a brand experience to users in whatever online environment they happen to be in.

Often the units begin as reformatted TV ads, enabling advertisers to extend, enforce and enhance their broadcast campaigns online. So there are a variety of elements and creative tactics that need to be measured in that brand experience, such as reactions to non-linear digital elements as well as reactions to linear TV elements, that tell marketers not just whether their campaign and its elements are successful, but what makes them so. 

Aggregating clicks into a click-through rate is just too simplistic, but a “click” within a video unit is still an incredibly powerful data point when evaluated properly.

By tracking interactions, taking other metrics such as mouse-over rates and dwell times as well as clicks into consideration, a wealth of data regarding informed actions, engagement, and user-selected product preference and interest becomes apparent.

Video formats can adapt to numerous campaign goals by incorporating various mechanics and creative from across a marketers’ strategic channels, such as image galleries of print ads and photo shoots; out-takes and extended versions of TV and cinema ads; vouchers, special offers, sampling and trials; showroom and branch locators; and promotion of and access to special events.

As such, the real time data derived from the online video ad can inform the entire integrated marketing process. Informed by the data, actions can be taken to optimise the campaign while it’s running. Once it ends, evaluating the data inspires the next campaign’s strategy. 

It’s not hard to derive value from the new metrics. Marketers simply need to start paying attention. Here are some best practices and first steps:

  • The campaign must be large enough to measure 

    Data must be collected from the largest possible sample size to ensure that advertisers gain the most comprehensive and insightful understanding of their audience, its segments and what drives action. Advertisers can then use this understanding to reliably assess the varied strengths and weaknesses of their campaign tactics in specific and illustrative detail.
  • Align research with campaign goals 

    Advertisers must decide how to best measure success with their campaign objectives in mind. Video ads can adapt to specific campaign goals, but so too must the data collection and analysis. 

  • Use the right partners for the right research 

    To make the best use of research and data derived from video ads, marketers must align the strengths of specialist research partners with their campaign goals. Products from Nielsen, comScore, Vizu and Dynamic Logic provide some of the essential tools to evaluate campaign success. 

    Each has different strengths. Naturally the research and analytics strategy should adjust to the key performance indicators of each specific campaign.

  • Effectively measure every element of the ad 

    Measuring how interactive elements perform enables advertisers to see not just what kinds of interactivity consumers are drawn to, but how these elements are helping consumers to engage with the brand and take action. 

    By combining action, awareness, engagement and intent metrics advertisers can gain far greater insight into their target market and can effectively measure the depth of the relationship between the brand and the consumer.

  • Understand and use the data 

    It’s easier said than done, but if data isn’t used to adapt and optimise a campaign then the value of the data provision process is largely lost. Advertisers need to use the data proactively rather than as a mere evaluation tool.

    Only when the data is properly understood can efforts be taken to capitalise on successful elements, address any underperforming tactics and inform the creativity of the next campaign. 

My colleague Ryan Van Fleet, Director of Insights and Analytics, explains in more detail how to use the right metrics when assessing the effectiveness of online video advertising.