Last week, Facebook informed its partners and the industry about a major error that they discovered in the way they calculate the average duration of video viewed.
The error inflated this metric through dividing the total time watching a video by the total number of three-second-views instead of dividing it by the total video play count.
At a time where video budgets are being fought over by TV networks, Google, Facebook & other players such as twitter, Snapchat & Ad Colony, this mistake might have favored Facebook in many ways.
With duration watched being linked to ad recall, as well as concerns over ad avoidance and viewability at the back of advertisers’ mind, a platform that delivers a higher average duration might push them to favor this platform over others.
Publishers and creatives are affected too! This data can used to help determine the type of content people like to see, which will influence future content development plans. Inaccurate data could result in misleading insights.
But this skew in numbers, although inaccurate, shouldn’t have affected budget optimization. There are more important metrics that play a more fundamental role when comparing platforms. After all, how can you compare YouTube, which is click-to-play, sound-on and pre-roll to Facebook which is auto-play and sound-off. Also, Facebook content is often shorter, uses subtitles and gets to the main message more quickly. Therefore, comparing Facebook and YouTube performance on metrics such as average view duration, VTR, CTR etc is like comparing apples to oranges.
What brands should consider is employing Brand Lift Surveys (BLS) to understand key KPIs such as ad recall, brand recall and purchase intent from video activity. This should be run using the same methodology and questions across all video platforms. With this in place, brands can work back to a cost-per-uplifted-user across each platform. This will provide much better insight into video campaign performance across platforms and where budgets should be assigned.
Brands need to be asking for this from 3rd parties who can provide BLS services across multiple video platforms, or even asking the platforms themselves, such as Facebook and YouTube, to work together on common methodology and questions.
By Abdallah Safieddine, Magna MENA Dubai.