10 Questions to Ask Your Agency about Your 0nline Video Campaign
By Anthony Rushton, Telemetry Ltd/Telemetry Inc. (UK)
Posted January 23rd, 2010
For most TV advertisers the pull of the Internet is magnetic. There exists pressure from all sides to embrace this medium in a hug more substantial than that reserved for the mere transmission of banners, buttons, micro sites and expandable “whiz bang wallop” creative solutions. More and more, we see advertisers asking “Why can’t I adapt my current TV ads through a shoot or post-production process and then deliver them through the Internet?”
Advertisers can have the best video creative on the planet but unless they have access to the technical expertise required to deliver and verify masses of high-quality video, they will never reach the stage when they can call their Internet video campaigns a “strategy.” Currently, advertisers gravitate to what the agency world refers to as “rich media” and this format dominates most contemporary digital media plans. This is where most agencies and all “ad serving companies” (see Glossary below) feel most comfortable. It is a hybrid world caught between the true televisual promise of the Internet and the graveyard of bygone formats such as flash banner ads. File sizes hover between 150k and 450k, and any video element is crudely pumped into the ad once the user engages, thereby pulverizing their browser experience in the process.
Once the online rich media plan is agreed to, the advertiser must then pay for the “serving” or “third-party distribution” of their rich media ads into the planned destination websites or “vendors”. Part and parcel of this process is the “tracking” of the rich media ads and the eventual reporting of performance metrics relating to the campaign, such as “click-through” or “mouse-over” activity by end-users. The advertiser rarely receives information pertaining to fiscal irregularities and never enters into conversations around missing media or poor positioning – commonly referred to as “discrepancies” within the relay of their ads.
What we are talking about here is real money, wasted money. Even agency-appointed ad serving companies are aware of discrepancies of up to 10% of the count. Vendor A charges the advertiser for 1,000 impressions when in fact the ad server only counts 900 impressions. 100 ads went missing somewhere in the process of delivering them to the host website. Even at 10%, a discrepancy of this nature will grow to become a serious problem for the advertiser when attempting to understand the commercial ramifications of online video.
The Internet is a series of connections, settings, PCs and servers, all with a myriad of settings preferences and capacities. It stands to reason that once agencies move on from “rich media” to focus more on “video ads,” then file sizes will increase and discrepancies will be greatly exacerbated. Telemetry experience reveals that up to 30% of all video ad “impressions” called in to in-banner positions or “MPUs” do not convert into video as seen by the target user.
Once the move to video gathers momentum, advertisers will need much more than an “ad serving solution,” as garnered by their agencies. Advertisers will need delivery and verification of their campaigns, with an active analysis of not only performance metrics, but a heavy leaning towards fiscal governance and corporate safe-guarding.
Furthermore, advertisers will need to ensure the company employed to deliver and verify their growing reliance on digital video is independent and able to verify vendors/ad networks/websites without fear or favour.
Ask your agency
Who is distributing/serving my ads?
Are they a video specialist ad-serving company?
What is the commercial arrangement between you and the ad-serving company?
Who owns the ad-serving company?
Can they serve my video ads “in-player” or are you allowing publishers/vendors to deliver them?
How do you detect the “brokering” of my media buy?
How do you verify my ad “impressions” are actually delivered to the end user?
How do you ensure my ads are delivered in the correct position on the correct sites?
How do you analyze discrepancies of count between your ad server & publishers/ad networks?
With respect to online video-serving, how is an “impression” counted and where?
Ad server/Ad-serving company
is normally a business independent of your media agencies yet commercially wedded to them. Their genesis is generally born of low-level banner advertising and their service may suffer from legacy issues with regard to video expertise. Moreover, they will often be owned by websites or large advertising networks. In these instances the efficacy of your media spend is measured by the recipients of your spend. A case of poacher turned gamekeeper?
is a format within which “pre-roll” video ads are presented to an Internet user. It is the format of choice when delivering video ads online. Most ad serving companies are incapable of delivering, and therefore verifying this format due to technical hurdles.
occurs when a website or online video network resells a percentage of an advertiser’s media buy due to low media rates or insufficient ad inventory. This process involves the redistribution of ads into undesirable and “blind” or unknown sites/networks. This practice is hugely detrimental to the advertiser’s efficacy and is not analyzed by traditional ad serving companies. It is an essential part of the Telemetry delivery and verification service.
is the process within which Internet video ads are independently audited, on a live basis, to ensure they are delivered within the terms of the media plan and subsequent media contracts. It also allows for live performance metrics of a higher quality, enabling media agencies to dynamically replan schedules “on the fly”.
is the favoured online buying metric for media agencies. Almost 10 years after the advent of this metric there is still no standard for what an “impression” means and how it is counted with respect to video ads. “In-player” video ads need to be decoupled from the term “impression” as even vendors cannot agree on how it is counted or indeed where it is counted within the loading cycle. Telemetry counting drills down to the “impact” – or verified ad start – to ensure advertiser budgets are secure and ads are actually shown to Internet users.
is the term Telemetry used to identify websites/publishers/vendors and ad networks that are able to present advertiser video campaigns in a diligent and professional manner, of which there are many. These diligent and professional purveyors of video allow advertisers to reach audience levels only previously attained through broadcast channels. It’s not all bad news, so long as you ask the right questions.
- Anthony Rushton - Director, Telemetry Ltd/Telemetry Inc. (UK)