How guaranteed video completion frees buyers to focus on optimization

pivot to video

by Lynn Chealander, director, product management, AppNexus, a Xandr company

When you think about it, marketing campaigns and big Hollywood studios aren’t so different from each other. Allow us to explain.

Imagine you work for a film studio — and your latest project isn’t doing too well in test screenings. Audiences can’t follow the plot, they’re laughing when they should be crying and overall, it’s clear that the film isn’t a finished product. You set up a meeting with the director, but they refuse to make changes: “The audience stayed until the end credits — I delivered exactly what you asked for!”

Unless the director is a cult favorite, the studio likely wouldn’t be satisfied with that response. In fact, they might consider replacing them with a director whose creative vision transcends the basics.

And for marketers employing video advertising, they know they too need to look beyond run-time to judge the success of their campaigns.

Video completions are a hygiene metric: not the only indicator of a campaign’s success, but still necessary for meaningful results. Ultimately, they’re an indicator that ads are reaching an engaged audience. When completions are guaranteed, buyers can focus on what really matters to their clients: optimizing towards performance and brand objectives.

Unfortunately, the market for video completion guarantees is fragmented, with both cost and definition varying greatly among platforms to the detriment and confusion of buyers. When platforms choose to sell on an arbitrary time-based video metric — three seconds, ten seconds, 30 seconds — the focus becomes monetization rather than buyers’ overall success.

To boot, transacting on arbitrary time-based metrics is less efficient than the impression buying it replaces. Since the metrics are not consistent, buyers not only have to use different price benchmarks per platform, they also have to do manual calculations on the back-end in order to compare performance and share results with their clients. That’s a lot of work just for hygiene.

However, as most buyers now optimize towards completion, we feel that it’s the job of sophisticated technology platforms to make it easier, not more challenging, for buyers to transact with consistency.

From our perspective, the first step to reducing buyers’ headaches is to align on the universal definition of “complete” – 100 percent – and apply it consistently across exchanges on the open internet.

Next, we believe ad completion in full should be guaranteed — meaning the platform assumes the risk of the transaction — in order to increase confidence in campaigns. Charging only if an ad is watched to 100 percent completion — not 50 percent, not 75 percent, not 97 percent — eliminates the unnecessary costs of ads that aren’t delivering and maximizes working media dollars.

And beyond avoiding wasted spend, consistent measurement and guaranteed completion also save time. Replacing the manual set-up process with machine learning to deliver video completions efficiently leaves buyers and their teams freed up to focus on other goals. Quite simply, it’s one thing off the to-do list.

As digital advertisers increasingly favor video-based campaigns, it’s necessary for technology platforms to use the innovation enabled by machine learning to the ultimate benefit, ease and trust of our customers.

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