Why engagement is as crucial as views

Video engagement is changing and new platforms are redefining best practice. What can you do? Brand Republic and Exponential held a roundtable to discover the answers...

Why engagement is as crucial as views

From Snapchat to Instagram, consumers are engaging with video advertising in new ways. But using these emerging platforms to their best effect – and measuring that engagement – presents new challenges for the industry.

In partnership with the video advertising experts Exponential, Brand Republic hosted an executive dinner debate that set out to answer the question of how best to ensure video advertising resonates with its target audience.

Senior marketing professionals from publishers and agencies gathered in the prestigious Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons to discuss the changing ways in which consumers are engaging with video, the different roles it can play throughout the purchase funnel and what its future will look like.

The debate began by demarcating TV and online advertising: they deliver different forms of engagement that relate to the content, quality and context in which they are viewed. Doug Conely, the chief strategy officer at Exponential, noted that brands need to consider details such as portrait-framing when using Snapchat or Instagram rather than traditional landscape TV or cinema creative. This will alter the type of content that works best for each given distribution platform.

Engagement is as important as views in this new advertising paradigm. Carl Fernandes, the director of technology and insight at Dentsu Aegis Network, illustrated the point with his agency’s work for an online fashion retailer.

Instead of using slick, professional video, it turned to YouTubers – they produce less glossy content than a TV commercial but have impressive engagement because their content is relevant for both the platform and the audience.

In conversation

St John Betteridge
Managing director of advertising, Time Out Europe
Jim Brown
Chief executive, Round8
Tim Brown
Co-founder and chief revenue officer, Abakus
Doug Conely
Chief strategy officer, Exponential
Dan Drori
Commercial director, Freeformers
Arif Durrani
Editor, Media Week; media editor, Campaign
Carl Fernandes
Director of technology and insight, Dentsu Aegis Network
Alain Portmann
Partner, head of media and insights, House of Kaizen
Jason Trout
UK managing director, Exponential
Greg West
Head of programmatic, Global Radio
Kirsty Wyllie
Director, EMENA marketing, Exponential

With the agreement that context is vital, the guests discussed the metrics needed to understand the impact of online video advertising. The discrepancy between comScore and Omniture was considered, with a consensus that the former was best-suited for planning and the latter able to present more
positive numbers. Both are measurements that marketers and publishers need to be wary of.

But the question of metrics is more complex – what do we mean by engagement? It will vary between brands. For example, a video might have more "likes", greater shares or higher views, but the challenge is in aligning these with conversions or purchases.

In turn, it is not a straightforward task to determine the effectiveness of video at each stage of the purchase funnel. The table was unanimous in their praise for video’s storytelling capacity but, as Tim Brown, the co-founder and chief revenue officer at Abakus, added, it is still undervalued as part of
upper-funnel activity.

However, this may change, especially with the prospect of "unique cookie IDs", which will allow brands to track individual consumers from prospecting through to post-purchase. This is particularly relevant for video, as the guests agreed that its major strength is in creating impact at the acquisition stage.

Jason Trout, the UK managing director at Exponential, highlighted the opportunities presented by deploying the right KPIs and using this insight to drive creative. It is not sufficient to use vanity
metrics such as impressions; instead, brands need to track indicators such as time spent watching or a video’s view­ability on the page. This tracking can then inform subsequent content to be displayed to the consumer, continuing the story and engagement.

Moreover, the ability to track and understand the impact of online video trumps the uncertainty or lack of metrics available to measure TV advertising. The guests were in agreement that, as consumers have increasing access to stream and watch video on a range of devices, brands will create more content tailored to online viewing.

As creative agencies and brands better understand what type of video creative to distribute online, and publishers work to ensure their users’ journeys are as protected as possible, the quality and volume of online video advertising will continue to grow unabated.