What Marketers Need to Know About How Today’s Top Social Platforms Measure Video

At the Association of National Advertisers' annual Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla., this week, CMOs from Procter & Gamble, McDonald's and Georgia-Pacific will be sure to address Facebook's recent video flub and ramifications for tracking social video.

The tech giant revealed that it inflated the amount of time users spend watching video by up to 80 percent, drawing the ire of advertisers who felt they were misled by nonaccredited data.

But the problem goes beyond just Facebook, as other digital platforms also use their own sets of metrics. Still, most marketers prefer the standards of industry measurement authority the Media Rating Council. One week after Facebook's video miscalculation was discovered, the ANA called for an audit of the platform's metrics and asked for third-party verification through the MRC.

"What we're trying to do with all media is achieve a certain level of reach—Facebook, YouTube [and] Snapchat reach hundreds of millions of users in the United States," said Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G. "I would prefer to have a common measurement standard. In fact, the MRC has a standard, and I'm fine with that standard."

Bob Liodice, ANA president and CEO, added: "All of the major media are accredited by the MRC—that's kind of our trust mark. It gives us the sense that what any particular media source is doing is appropriately verified or at least the process is appropriately verified. It's kind of like grading your own homework. You wouldn't rely on a financial statement that hasn't been audited."

At the same time, there is a case for more nuanced, platform-specific metrics, said Douwe Bergsma, CMO of Georgia-Pacific. "We do like the customized opportunity to measure across the different platforms," noted Bergsma. "A video on YouTube might serve a very different objective for one brand than another brand." For now, there are disparate measurement tools. Here, how Facebook and other social video players stack up regarding video views:


Facebook and Instagram

Global Users: 1.1 billion (Facebook) and 300 million (Instagram) per day

How Advertisers Are Charged: Either instantly as an ad appears in a newsfeed or after a video is seen for 10 seconds. Facebook has partnerships with a handful of measurement companies (Moat, comScore, Nielsen), but as its recent video controversy showed, marketers aren’t satisfied with the data Facebook is feeding them. “Facebook has become major media—at this stage in the game, there’s no pragmatic reason for a company like Facebook to not be doing what the balance of the media playing is doing,” Liodice said. “There should be commonality so as to have comparable measurement across the board.”

How Video Ad Prices Are Calculated: Marketers can either pay on a cost-per-impression basis so that they are charged the instant a video appears in a newsfeed or they can use a cost-per-view model in which they are charged only after a video is in view on the page for 10 seconds. To compare, the MRC defines a video view as 50 percent of an ad being on screen for two seconds.



Global Users: More than 150 million per day

How Advertisers Are Charged: A “view” counts as a click to open a story. Snapchat charges a marketer each time a video is looked at, even if it’s for a fraction of a second. While the app’s ad business is nascent and brands want detailed data on its users, the company has stepped up its measurement capabilities since launching its adtech platform this past summer, partnering with 11 data companies, including Nielsen and Millward Brown Digital. Now, Snapchat is beginning to push into more sophisticated types of behavior targeting, which includes matching up email addresses to mobile device IDs.



Global Users: Over 1 billion users (does not break out monthly or daily)

How Advertisers Are Charged: Advertisers are charged every time someone watches 30 seconds of a TrueView ad—YouTube’s skippable, preroll format. If an ad is less than 30 seconds but is still fully watched or if someone clicks on an ad, advertisers are also charged. Marketers have complained that, like Facebook, the Google platform’s walled garden means they aren’t able to get granular stats. And as YouTube continues to compete for TV-size budgets, expect pressure to open up third-party measurement to grow. Victor Pineiro, svp, social media at Big Spaceship, said there is “a real lack of trust” when it comes to “allowing publishers to legitimately rely on their own metrics and not have a third party [involved].”



Global Users: 313 million per month

How Advertisers Are Charged: There are two choices: either when 100 percent of a video is in view for three seconds or when 50 percent of an ad is seen for two seconds. The latter option is the standard created by the MRC. Plugging into the MRC’s guidelines and working with third-party data firms helps Twitter stand out a bit from competitors, said Scott Symonds, AKQA’s managing director of media. “We don’t like to settle with what Facebook, Twitter or anybody else tells us,” he said. “We want thirdparty standards, and that’s what we look at to make sure we correlate our investments to results for our clients.”



Global Users: 150 million per month

How Advertisers Are Charged: Seeing an in-feed ad. Two months ago, Pinterest became the latest social platform to embrace video ads to compete for big brand dollars. Video ads run in feeds and show a preview of a clip before someone clicks on it to watch the full version of the video. Advertisers are charged on a cost-per-impression (CPM) once someone sees the preview. But unlike the low-quality videos that work well on Snapchat, Pinterest tells brands to produce very polished ads that pack in as much detail as possible. “With Pinterest, you really have to go a little more high-end,” said Pineiro.

This story first appeared in the October 17, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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