Tracking Video Ad Performance – Interview With Eyeblaster’s Amit Rahav

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With increased demands by companies for better measurable results with their marketing and ad spending, online video is the fastest-growing of all the ad formats – making up an greatly-expanding portion of the ad spend ($775 million in the US alone in 2007 – up 89% from 2005 – according to eMarketer), and predictions by all major research agencies for continued, significant double-digit growth in the years ahead.

Grant Crowell recently interviewed Amit Rahav, VP of Marketing for video ad campaign solutions provider,Eyeblaster. Amit and Grant discuss Eyeblaster’s recent video metrics performance reports of their global ad data, their company’s best practices for online video analytics, and how keeping the user engaged with online video advertising will be a growing challenge for marketers in 2008.

Global online video advertising solutions provider Eyeblaster recently released its own video metrics performance reports for tracking their video and rich media ad properties across their partner publishers and agencies.

The video ad metrics measured by Eyeblaster include:

  • ·Average video ad duration in seconds
  • ·Start rate
  • ·50% played rate
  • ·Fully played rate

Also notable: Eyeblaster is the first video ad solutions provider to be accredited by the Media Rating Council (MRC) against the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Ad Impression Measurement guidelines, including for broadband video commercials, rich media, and ad campaign measurement and auditing. While these are all voluntary standards, it does position Eyeblaster to have special consideration for future global “best practices” with online video ads.

Grant: First, let’s have on overview of your company. How would you define the video solutions Eyeblaster has available for its clients?

Amit: Our offering is essentially campaign management of a client’s video (and other rich media) content. From advertiser’s perspective, there are a number of complexities and issues to deal with: starting from planning, creative or media, executing the campaign, measuring it and then planning the next campaign based on those measurements. It’s a high level service and we try to focus on the user experience and how to do everything easier, branding or whatever the business objective may be. We specifically work with the advertiser and the agency and we are more of a media ‘buy-side’ solution. We cover a broad range of advertising channels and we combine them with regular standard marketing.

Explain a typical scenario of how you work with a client from beginning to end.

We often get a contact from an agency that is developing video or re-purposing a TV spot for use as an advertisement. The conversation starts at what are the best practices from a creative point of view, and what are the considerations from a media planning point of view. We try to provide value as everything is possible in the game as there are complexities that we are very familiar with and some best practices that we have been exposed to over the years and we’re looking to share that as early as possible in the game.

Then we also take on the creative process. Our creative authoring tools take care of video encoding, packaging the video for sharing across different bandwidths, capabilities of the client. We understand that we may be tackling things in real time; the specific capabilities and bandwidth of every client that we have requires different versions of the video to ensure a smooth consumer experience.

We are also in charge of the actual delivery of the videos. We are major users of CDN networks like Akamai and others, streaming video and ad placement and at the same time measuring the marketing performance of the videos – how the consumers interact with them, how many consumers are exposed, are people replaying, are people viewing in full screen mode, etc.. Any kind of activity in interaction is being recorded by EyeBlaster and packaged for data analysis. So that’s sort of a full lifecycle from beginning to end.

From all the data you gather in your video ad benchmark reports – are there any summary findings like which format performs best, what are the best opportunities, etc?

Overall in 2007, Video was a very strong form of advertising, and most forms of advertising are fighting to retain the same levels of engagement. What we have seen is online video’s interaction rates are actually going up across the board. That means the consumer is more sophisticated and less likely to click away from the media that they are looking at or the site they are on and more willing to share and engage with the ad.

Video is one of the stronger forms of advertising to do that and has a much higher performance rate over time, and manages to maintain consumer interest longer. It’s certainly going to be an ongoing challenge to keep the user engaged throughout the video, but we’re measuring by completion rate. Different verticals have different considerations and it’s becoming philosophical. Certainly we can see that the greatest challenge is to keep the user engaged throughout the entire video.

In your video measurement benchmarks, you define the video “interaction rate” field of measurement as: “user-initiated interactions divided by served impressions.” So what would constitute a user-initiated interaction?

This measurement is especially important. The way that EyeBlaster does it is that it’s important to have positive interaction rate. For a video ad, a positive interaction would be things such as: playing the video, changing the volume asking for a replay, a click, or going into full screen mode.

Negative interactions are things like switching the volume off. (Pausing and stopping are things we don’t count.)

As for the ad itself we are able to measure all things on it already, so by default we say these things are not interactions.

On top of that, advertisers can define anything they want as sort of a custom interaction. Let’s say there is an ad with a game and the user can play the game. That can be a custom interaction and be tracked to make sure we know how many people played or finished the game. The idea is to plan and articulate the measure of success metric so we know exactly what type of campaign to plan. Are we trying to get people to do something or just to raise brand awareness? When we plan it from the beginning, then everyone knows what is expected and aware of what the measure of success is.

One of your measurement benchmarks is the 50% played rate vs. full-played in the ad clip, whatever its duration. What information can you gleam from using 50% as a benchmark? Does this require an advertising strategy of where all the action or brand is accomplished at that 50% rate?

I think it does. The 50% played rate is a good benchmark for creative, media, etc. If I get much higher than 50% played-rate then I’m doing pretty well. If I’m repurposing a TV spot all the action happens and the brand is sometimes only exposed in the last 3 seconds of the ad. It might be a successful ad on TV but if the consumer can skip the ad or stop the video this is going to be a problem as they will not see the brand. We recommend that when repurposing the TV spot to an ad make sure there is a creative opening that shows the brand outside the video, a wrapper or an icon or something else that opens and expands what the brand and the message is instead of just a punch line in an ad.

Let’s ask the basic question: Why do we need video analytics?

One of the things about online advertising is accountability. You really want to see what’s going to drive more advertising budget online from offline channels. The next wave of revenue is going to come from the branding dollars migrating from offline channels. One of the attractive things about online advertising versus the traditional mode is the accountability. That you’re able to come and say this is the impact and these are the people that when engaged and these are the results that come out of that. It goes beyond just the measurement of video but it’s the measurement of advertising alongside measurement of web specific experience is key to fueling growth in the industry.

The next thing is at the end of the day looking at it as how does advertising would want to achieve perhaps a single view of the consumer experience. What we can do before the impression, what we can do on a search engine, or a video search engine, and what we can do on my website. We we want to be able to perform consistently and measure that consistently. If I just see what the consumer did on my website and don’t see what they did in order to get to my website, I am missing out on a huge constituency; these are people that are interested in my brand but are still yet not doing things on my website. You want to make sure what the whole picture is of your advertising online.

The difference between what you’ve referred to as “Web 1.0 analytics” and these new video analytics – are there certain things they should look for that can’t be measured the same as static content? Things like watching the whole video, returning to it, sharing it – the social/viral side of video engagement, so to speak?

I think that it certainly has some characteristics that are specific to video – duration, full speed playback, viral distribution –it really goes back to the social and ability sides of how users interact with video. You have to be cognizant of the fact that most of your viewers are going to have some usage by default. With a regular website you don’t have to consider that. But for example, if you have a video that might rely on sound, you need to know if 90% of people have the sound turned off and how many are looking at it with or without sound; you need to know if they’re getting the ad’s message.


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