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YouTube is preparing to let companies see what proportion of the adverts they place on the video platform can be seen by viewers.
The move is a response to complaints by advertisers such as Unilever and Kellogg’s, which have become concerned that they are wasting money on ads that are not visible.
There are several reasons why an ad may not be seen, such as when it loads in a part of a web page that falls outside of the viewer’s screen. In other cases, the viewer may scroll away from the ad before they have a chance to see it or minimise their web browser while the ad is playing.
According to a report in the FT, the Google-owned company has recently given in to pressure to provide much greater transparency. YouTube plans to let third-party verification groups access data on the position and context of ads shown on the site.
This initiative is expected to start by the end of the year and is likely to attract interest from well-known verification companies.
Google already offers an in-house measurement system called Active View for testing whether ads are seen. In May, it published a study of “viewability” across its ad networks, including DoubleClick and YouTube. It found that the average viewability of video ads across the web was 54 per cent — meaning that only about half of the ads could be seen — while on YouTube it was 91 per cent.
A video ad is counted as ‘viewable’ when at least half of its pixels are visible on screen for at least two consecutive seconds, according to standards set by the Media Rating Council and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Some advertisers believe that this definition is too lax.
Noting the initiative, Juliette Otterburn-Hall, Chief Content Officer at Beamly, said: “We’re much more likely to enjoy an activity when we have actively made the choice to participate rather than being told to. So why don’t brands adopt the same approach for advertising? Ads at the start of a video can feel forced and many viewers skip them when possible. Social discovery, on the other hand, is far more successful in reaching and engaging the target audience.
“This is what brands should focus on. Rather than investing considerable sums into putting ads at the start of YouTube videos, which may or may not reach the intended audience, advertising budgets would be much better invested in creating content designed to be shared across social media by those who are actively interested in it. After all, there’s no getting away from the fact that social networks are a great place to get targeted recommendations from those who you share common interests with.
“It’s no surprise, then, that social discovery is all around us. From film endorsements on Facebook to trending topics on Twitter or song recommendations on Spotify, we are all influenced by the opinions of others more than you might think. Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the biggest examples of websites fuelling social discovery. Thanks to a range of built-in sharing features these networks make it possible for any piece of content about a product, service or brand to go viral quickly.
“Part of the reason social discovery has become so common, and why it’s now important for brands from an advertising and marketing perspective, is because there’s more content available online than ever before. So, by adopting this approach, brands can not only use social discovery as a form of native advertising, pushing their products to new audiences in a less aggressive way than with traditional marketing methods, but also to offer more targeted and relevant messages to specific demographics.”