In 2003, when I first started working on digital video with Google and Yahoo (at the time it was Overture), the marketplace seemed particularly complex. We had Google Adwords, whose title length was 25 characters, while Yahoo's was 140. How were we ever going to fix the complexity of that?
Turns out we were being pretty silly, because the complexity of today's digital video marketplace makes the early days of search problems seem commonplace. One of the main reasons is that while online ad expenditure is still an emerging market in North America, online video is the fastest growing medium in advertising.
Rather than focus on all marketplace challenges, let's explore one of the big ones. Our clients often ask how we should plan media dollars between TV content and digital video consumption of identical or similar content. The question seems simple, but the answer is complex.
First of all, planning media dollars and placing ads across screens requires us to make the assumption that the content on all the different screens is the same. So for the sake of argument, let's assume that is the case.
Calculating the relative contribution of each channel reach requires an agreed upon approach of measurement. However, before we can measure reach, we need to ensure that everyone is following the same standards of how the video is actually delivered to the player. Only then can we be confident in the calculation of the impression. At GroupM we support the IAB efforts regarding video standards and more recently serving standards at www.iab.net/vast, where the VAST document includes all the elements necessary to display the visual experience of the ad.
Once we have the confidence of the delivery of the ad, only then can we start to feel good about the actual impression count. However, to be fully confident we need to be able to serve the ad across multiple video players with the same methodology. Third-party ad-serving in this space is still young to non-existent as we are waiting for all the players to comply and to allow for the ad-serving itself. Only when we can ad-serve from one source can we feel confident in the consistent calculation of the impression across multiple players. We need to push.
Assuming we feel confident about the impression counts, how do we calculate the audience composition of the video viewed? There are variations in methodologies for accounting for that as well. We need to agree on the right methodologies to move forward.
We also need to address how we handle other important elements such as frequency, video companion or interactive units, information on duration of play, and the relative impact of an online video ad versus a TV ad in an effort to equalize the two.
When we try to look at planning media dollars across multiple screens, we don't have an agreed upon standard in the industry of all of the elements within the calculation of a reach and frequency measurement to make a confident comparison. Measurement approach to the online video marketplace should not be a competitive advantage, but an industry standard. As an industry we need to move quickly to develop and use a rigorous online video measurement system that we can all agree on as part of a multichannel (cross-media), holistic measurement approach.
Cary Tilds is Leader Digital Media Operations for Mindshare North America. Cary can be reached at email@example.com
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