Here Are the Key Trends Which Affected Video Measurement in 2015

It’s been a record-breaking year for the online video market. Over the last 12 months we have seen ‘Friends Furever’ take the crown as the most shared video ad of all time, while Facebook Video ads have raised the speed of sharing to a whole new level.

The ad industry is changing faster than it ever and with it we’re seeing marketers continue to adjust their definitions of online video success.

The good news is the love affair with the “view” is long gone (although some agencies admit that they’re still convincing their clients that the view counter is merely a vanity metric), as more and more brands look closely at metrics which measure attention and engagement (e.g. dwell time, completed views and interactions).

The new boogeyman is ad blocking – and marketers’ focus on driving shares (which requires better quality, emotional creative and improved targeting) can help force this monster back into the shadows.

Here are the top 5 trends affecting video measurement to round off our Unruly’s 2015 Trends Series

1. Facebook Became A Key Video Player – And Dominated YouTube 

We are now in a post-YouTube era. In 2014, Facebook rolled out its sponsored video ads and planted a flag in the video playing field. Its initial $1 million-a-day price tag had its drawbacks, but Facebook has since evolved its pricing model and now delivers 8 billion video views daily.

The rate of video sharing on the platform has also changed, with shares happening twice as fast on Facebook than on YouTube. On average around 86% of the total shares a Facebook Video ad generates is in its first 3 days, compared with 44% on YouTube. This is largely because Facebook’s newsfeed is primarily a content discovery platform, while YouTube is a search engine.

There were also more shares of Facebook Videos than YouTube at the 2015 Super Bowl, with 65% shares of Big Game ads taking place on Facebook (in its rookie year!).

But it’s not all about just Facebook v YouTube. With Snapchat claiming 6 billion video views daily, the two giants might have another video platform on their heels next year.

2. Attention Is The New Viewability

This year we moved away from merely defining viewability (a favorite AdLand topic in 2014) to acting on it, with platforms such as Facebook announcing 100% In-View Ad Impressions, as verified by Moat.

However, a focus solely on viewability can hurt the user experience. Sticky ads, pop-up ads, board ads, too many ads on a page can all technically be measured as viewable, but they are not engaging viewers or capturing attention. They can even hurt brands. According to Unruly’s Future Video Survey, 62.5% of consumers are annoyed when they are forced to watched ads. As Harvard Business School’s Thales Texeira’s research proves, attention is the most valuable currency in today’s saturated media world.

3. The Rise Of Ad Blockers

Despite the increase in content and the rise of both views and shares, share rates (or shares as a percentage of views) have fallen to 1%. Consumers are inundated with average ads that don’t resonate with them, and they are fighting back by installing ad blockers.  

In fact, 16% of the US population uses ad blockers (Warc). And this trend is picking up pace. When Apple launched iOS9 in September 2015, it came with an ad blocking feature on its Safari browser.

Marketers can beat the ad blockers by creating content that people want to watch and share. When someone shares an ad with friends, family and their social networks, ad blockers are circumnavigated. Some online environments are more affected by ad blockers, and using a varied media mix – which includes social gaming, value exchange and in-app advertising – can help the ads get through to viewers. The rise of ad blocking will force a rebalancing of the ad economy, which will be a key topic to watch in 2016!  

4. Evolution Of The Centralized Trading Desk

This was the year the industry started to re-evaluate the role of agency trading desks and programmatic buying. In February, Publicis Groupe’s Vivaki restructured its organisation and reassigned its 120 employees to sit within account teams. Interpublic’s Mediabrands, WPP’s GroupM and IPG’s Cadreon have also decentralized their trading desks in recent years, while others have moved away from the traditional trading desk model and operate more like ad networks. There has also been an increase in client trading desks.

More than a decade ago when the industry was first introduced to programmatic ad buying, it made sense to pull together specialists who were able to navigate this new way of buying. As education continues to grow from the brand/client side in the space, marketers’ needs are shifting and as a result the role of the traditional centralized trading desk continues to change.

5. Digital Overtook TV in recall/viewing

If you think TV alone is the best way to reach your audience – think again. Last year’s Super Bowl set a new record in video ad sharing, attracting over 9 million shares – but remarkably most of these ads weren’t watched on TV! In fact, according to Unruly research, more than half (51%) of Super Bowl ad viewers saw the ads on a device other than a TV screen.

It highlights just how important it is that marketers make their content discoverable across all formats/devices their target audience uses.  A single device focus, such as a TV, will leave a large portion of consumers overlooked. In fact, Luma suggests advertisers should allocate 10% of its TV spend on digital to maximize ROI, while the IAB and Nielsen say 10-15%.

In conclusion

From the advent of Facebook video into the video ecosystem to trying to effectively measure TV viewing, the key takeaways from the trends of 2015 are to make and launch ads people actively want to watch in a way that fits in organically with their natural viewing experience. Of course, this basic principle of marketing hasn’t changed. But now there are a wide array of tools in the marketing tool kit to accomplish this goal, from testing to targeting consumers across a growing number of  platforms, devices, each with their own use case.