Can UKOM's VideoCensus propel VoD into the mainstream?

The arrival of VideoCensus, the UK's first industry-backed metric for video on-demand (VoD), could mark a significant milestone for online display advertising and has galvanised broadcasters, agencies and advertisers alike, but can it live up to the hype?

Can UKOM's VideoCensus propel VoD into the mainstream?

Nielsen’s VideoCensus claims to accurately measure how people consume and engage with internet video content, and is accredited by the UK Online Measurement company (UKOM), run by the AOP and IAB, in co-operation with ISBA and the IPA.

By combining metrics from UKOM’s online audience panel with tagged publishers' server-based data, the tool provides, for the first time, detailed information on those viewing video online.

For April 2011, the newly available data highlighted that 26.9m people in the UK viewed streamed video from home and work computers.

It also confirmed that YouTube is the most-popular site for watching video content, with 19.5million unique UK viewers last month, followed by the BBC website (9.1m), Vevo (5.3m) and Facebook (4.4m).

The VideoCensus launch comes at a critical time for UKOM as it looks to reassure its doubters and cement its credibility following a major data accounting error at the end of last year.

Media buyers and brand owners have been calling for greater consistency and transparency around VoD for years, and for many standardisation has been too slow to arrive.

Top-of-mind is the desire to better compare and trade VoD advertising with traditional television, and help it become established in media campaigns as a brand building tool that can also extend the reach of TV advertising.

If VideoCensus can help pave the way, it will go some way in quietening those dissenting voices around UKOM’s elevated standing as the UK’s recognised online planning company. 

Web TV Enterprise, the UK's largest premium online video advertising network, surveyed 160 media buyers in its latest bi-annual research and found that almost three quarters (72%) expected online video ad spend to increase by 25% or more by the end of the summer 2011.

More than three quarters (77%) of media buyers surveyed said their average campaign spend on VoD now exceeds £25,000, with 43% stating an average spend in excess of £50,000 and 11% allocating more than £100,000.

Such trends supports predictions made by the IAB in March that "2011 is set to be a boom year for online video advertising".

Below are the initial thoughts of VideoCensus from some of the UK’s leading media figures, representing online advertising, agencies and media owners.

Guy Phillipson, chief executive of IAB

"With online video advertising worth £54 million in 2010 and growing at a rate of close to 100% year on year, an online video media planning system is an essential tool for the industry.

"VideoCensus not only taps into UKOM/Nielsen’s rich demographics, but, by applying tags also allows more detailed reporting of online video content. So it’s now possible for media planners to make a comparison between the TV and online audiences for, say, Britain’s Got Talent.

"The UKOM Technical Group has been working hard to ensure that Nielsen VideoCensus product meets the high standards set by UKOM.

"The passive element linking to the UKOM/Nielsen panel is fairly straightforward. But the methodology for tagging video streams and the attendant ‘scaling factors’ between panel and census figures is more complicated, and I commend the combined Brains Trust for delivering the solution we have today.

"Importantly, as more and more media owners and agencies adopt VideoCensus during the second half of the year, we can look forward to many more online brand campaigns."


James Smythe, general manger of UKOM

"Video is clearly of the upmost importance to the media owners and advertisers investing in technology. As the audiences are merging they need good metrics to demonstrate what those vehicles can deliver. It’s been a long time coming that the industry can agree on a measurement for digital.
"There will be an increase in spend in online video but I don’t think we could say that what UKOM will necessarily drive that, but I think it will help support it.
"There will be advertisers who can’t afford to advertise on television who can advertise online, as you don’t have to buy the volumes. But it still costs a lot of money to produce good content, whether its being shown the big screen or the little screen. So video on demand is going to be driven mostly by the kinds of advertisers who are already in TV advertising.
"By adding this metric into what BARB offers, it will allow TV planners to add it to the whole picture. The big question which we are not answering, for people who buy online video is what will it give them over and above TV in terms of volume, and, secondly, how it gives an indication of true engagement online."

Steve Williams, chief executive of OMD

"The new VideoCensus is good news for the business, as it brings video in line with everything else, i.e. it is possible to compare placements by audience just as you can with UKOM, BARB, RAJAR, etc.

"That said, it is quite possible that VideoCensus becomes redundant, as time goes by, just as UKOM could, due to the increasing wealth of data available to agencies and advertisers.

"Currently the majority of money invested in online video comes from TV budgets, and we expect this to continue and increase significantly, towards high double-digit growth this year."



Tess Alps, chief executive Thinkbox

"UKOM is a useful planning tool that fills a gap and helps planners understand online repertoires, but it isn't granular enough to be a media currency.

"As for online TV, BARB has been tracking online TV viewed on devices other than TV sets since 2005, though as yet it's not all part of the core measurement. Since January 2010 on-demand TV viewed on TV sets has been included.

"Advertisers might accept a lower rigour for measuring general online video but they, and agencies, expect BARB standards for online TV, and they want to look at total TV reach and frequency whatever the platform. A similar situation is arising with print and radio where NRS and RAJAR also now include the online versions."