Should marketers pay for video ads that are not seen all the way through?

Should marketers pay for video ads that are not seen all the way through?


For marketers, having ads appearing in a video stream is higher cost than the cost of buying standard display ad units. Higher revenues for Publishers are therefore an attractive proposition which has seen an explosion of online video (even outside of youtube). The quality of the content however, is affecting revenues in a new way thanks to systems of media and ad measurement from ad servers and video verification providers.

Beyond the delivery of a video impression, marketers can track new metrics as a safety net to ensure the video ad is seen by a human and is viewed all the way through. This includes the ability to track how much of the video has been viewed and for how long. Given that marketers can independently measure these statistics away from the eyes of the Publisher, marketers have noted that a growing volume of video ads are not played all the way through.

With industry bodies like the IAB offering no guidance on the commitment of the Publisher to ensure a video ad is seen all the way through by a user (before an ad qualifies for having been seen), marketers are beginning discussions with Publishers to determine privately what is deemed as a quality impact, i.e. was enough of the ad seen for the marketing message to get through to the user?

Some Publishers are walking away from the negotiating table having secured big budget deals on a promise: that the marketer will only have to pay for ads that have been seen all the way through. The question is: can Publishers actually prevent users from clicking away to a different website or alternative content before the video ad has completed playing?

To get to the crux of the issue, one needs to determine why users would click away in the first place.

Putting aside technical issues related to the loading of the video ad, the debate falls upon a question of user attention. The user will click away either because the ad is dull or because the featured video content due to show after the ad has played through, is not compelling enough to hold the user attention.

Many marketers would argue that if the video content is good enough, a user will always wait patiently through an ad break. Publishers may argue that if the ad content is too long, or irritates the user in some way (such as through looped messages or flashing images), that it doesn’t matter what content will follow: the user will always click away before the video is complete.

It is clear that the effort to both produce compelling ads and content go hand in hand. The responsibility lies with both, although strictly it is the Publisher that provides the service to the Advertiser and therefore higher revenue opportunities for Publishers must be used to fairly fund compelling video content. Only then is a Publisher in a position to accept video ads which have been deemed quality by both parties.


To find out more advertising metrics, technologies and buying models for video and display read: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from..

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