The Shift from Traditional to Digital Video – Do the Metrics Measure Up?

As the use of digital video continues to increase across all devices, it is important to stay on top of this growing trend. Recently, I attended the IAB 2016 Q Digital Video Committee Meeting, which posed a great discussion on the state of digital video. After attending the meeting, I found myself thinking about the many discussions we have had with leading brands on the use of digital video. The conversation typically centers on the fact that most are starting to shift their advertising dollars from traditional mediums, like TV, into digital video as a way to decrease costs in a comparable environment. They are also concerned whether this change is actually comparable when it comes to measurable metrics.
The answer to this can be complicated, as all video is not created equal, but can generally be answered by determining whether the video falls into a long form or short form category. 
In-Banner Ads
In-banner ads fall into their own bucket separate from in-content ads.
Long-Form Video
Long-form video is generally accepted as content that is 10 minutes or longer. It includes full TV shows that can be viewed in their entirety either through outlets like a set top box (cable box), the network’s website, or a hosting site such as Hulu. The ads run as pre-roll or mid-roll, much like in traditional TV and typically cannot be skipped. These can include full length shows that do not appear on traditional networks, such as original series, giving you access to run alongside exclusive content. This type of video has also gained popularity as marketers are increasingly investing in custom content for digital platforms.
Short-Form Video
Short-form video, on the other hand, lasts less than 10 minutes and typically includes content such as news clips or user generated videos. 
With full length video, such as your favorite Prime Time TV show, the user is very much engaged with the content. They would typically go to the network website or through their set top box with the intention of watching a particular show, giving a certain amount of time to the programming. It would be very similar to viewing TV live. The one exception is that there are typically less commercial spots for this form of VOD, which is a good thing because that means less clutter. These factors lend to this type of VOD being viewed as an awareness builder in much the same way as TV.
In the case of short form video, a user would typically stumble upon it as they are browsing a website. Additionally, these types of videos usually show up within the content of the page and are supported by companion banners. With that said, the user may or may not be engaged with the video ad. Typically, you would measure these by video starts and completes, CTR, conversions, etc. It is common for a user to abandon this kind of content. This is more in line with standard display advertising where performance is the expectation. While short-form video does have other redeeming qualities, when it comes to looking for an alternative to TV advertising, this would not be the best choice.
The Long & Short of it
At the end of the day, when replacing TV advertising with digital video, the best practice is a like-for-like tradeoff as it relates to how users are consuming specific videos and what their expectations are while viewing the advertisement. If you are planning on re-allocating spend from TV advertising into long-form video, it can be an appropriate and comparable shift as far as measurable metrics are concerned because of their many similarities. 
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By Frank Polkowski
About the Author:

Frank Polkowski is Senior Digital Account Manager at Ebiquity, plc

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