Stephen Upstone, CEO & Co-Founder at LoopMe
It can be difficult to judge the effectiveness of mobile video advertising campaigns. The proliferation of different ad formats, from native to pre-roll to 360, and tech providers has made it more difficult than ever to before to judge the performance of an ad campaign.
For example, a recent report from eMarketer, stated completion rates for mobile pre-roll were on average 77%. By itself this stat seems pretty unremarkable, depending on the creative 70-80% completion rate is a fairly standard result for a non-skippable pre-roll campaign. But there’s the catch, unremarkable for a non-skippable campaign.
The vast majority of brands and advertisers understand the difference between a non-skippable pre-roll, which oblige a user to watch an ad before viewing video content, or a skippable format which allows the user to decide whether or not to watch the ad. What is perhaps less well understood is the difference in performance across KPIs that these two buying options will deliver. A non-skippable pre-roll can achieve the highs of 80% completion pretty easily (after all, how many people abandon watching a video because of a 15 second ad?) whereas a very successful skippable pre-roll would be looking at a 40% completion rate.
This does not mean that the skippable pre-roll is delivering poor results, although seeing them side-by-side in an excel might make a junior planner very nervous.
There are arguments using for both types of advertising – skippable ads are far more user-friendly and the people who do watch your ad are probably genuinely interested in the advert, unlike users who cannot skip and merely want to watch the video content after the trailer. On the other hand, non-skippable ads do mean more people see your message and, on average, this type of advertising tends to be cheaper.
The issue occurs when the two types try to be compared directly and conversation becomes ‘why has one provider delivered 40% completion while another has hit 70%?’. Both may be delivering pre-roll but they are very different offerings. The situation becomes even more muddied when campaigns are rolled out across a variety of mobile video formats, for example native video normally pulls in between 20-30% completion rate.
What all of this boils down to is what makes each view valuable to each brand, for each specific campaign. There is a key learning to be made – a high completion rate does not mean a campaign has been successful, and a low one does not mean it was bad. Campaigns should be judged on how they have contributed to the wider campaign.
If the goal is to raise awareness among a specific audience, then a skippable format, which allows a user to decide if they are interested will be more valuable, even if the overall completion rate is lower. Another campaign, looking at reaching as many people as possible, regardless on their initial interest, might see more value in a non-skip campaign. However, it’s important to remember that non-skip campaigns can irritate users, and as we know, users are becoming more vocal as to what they will and will not accept in advertising.
The way for brands to really judge the efficiency of their campaigns is to determine the effect it had on brand metrics, such as purchase intent or brand awareness. Thanks to developments in artificial intelligence and programmatic delivery, it is possible to survey users to determine their reactions to a campaign, and use these results to improve delivery. By judging campaigns against a brand metrics it becomes very easy to compare format and provider performance against the overall campaign goal.
The important thing for us as an industry is to compare like with like, whether that is across format, provider or campaign. By far the easiest way to achieve this is to move away from digital metrics, like video completion rate or clicks, and focus on the brand metrics which really matter.