Everything that happens online leaves an electronic trail. Therefore every consumer action can be monitored. This is one of the biggest differentiators between Over-The-Top advertising on digital platforms and traditional media such as newspapers or cable TV. OTT advertising generates a wealth of data on how people respond to an advert and whether they engage with any call to action. Even negative data can be beneficial in terms of understanding brand perceptions or planning future promotional campaigns.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of this market. Average weekly OTT viewing time is projected to soar from last year’s average of 3.6 hours to a remarkable 18.9 hours by 2022. As the market matures and audiences grow, there are seven key metrics every advertiser must track to optimize their OTT ad performance:
#1. Subscriber Volumes
While it may seem obvious to include this in the list, how many advertisers know the precise number of Netflix subscribers this month? How many can recite the percentage of US households that don’t have a cable or satellite subscription, or instinctively say whether Apple TV has more customers than Fire TV? Knowing these statistics is crucial to calculating the percentages achieved by an OTT advert when it’s broadcast.
#2. Percentage of Smart TV Audience
Ad tech specialists FreeWheel revealed a few months ago that completion rates for watching broadcast ads were 15% higher on connected TVs than smartphones. Tablets and desktop computers perform somewhere in between. However, ad performance analysis needs to take a holistic view of every platform where content has been screened – even if that’s not immediately available (or particularly convenient for the data provider.)
#3. Audience Figures
Again, headline figures can mask more in-depth data behind the executive summary. For instance, it’s crucial to differentiate between the person and the home, with a single domestic subscription potentially reaching several very different audience demographics. A home may have one account that supports a dozen web-enabled devices from games consoles to smart TVs, plus the mobile handsets and tablets that channel the majority of global internet traffic. If two family members watch the same program on separate devices via a shared subscription, they may have very different responses to an advert. If possible, these should be treated as separate activities when analyzing the ad’s performance.
#4. Click Through Rates (CTR)
Rather than passively observing advertisements, modern audiences increasingly expect OTT ads to offer a degree of interactivity. From a clickable company web address to a ‘follow the story’-style follow-up, the CTR represents an important measure of an ad’s performance. Of course, people can engage with an advert without immediately conducting a follow-up action, but click-throughs demonstrate that interest has been piqued. Over time, a comparison of results from different ads or platforms can provide valuable data about which messages consumers are engaging with.
#5. Performance of Different File Types
The OTT market has yet to reach maturity, and it’s still experiencing the growing pains of any new industry. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has devised universal specifications for video advertising, including the Video Ad Serving Template and the Video Player-Ad Interface Definition. However, these scripting and standards frameworks are only advisory, and there remains a degree of inconsistency in terms of file type compatibility. If an MP4 advert performs relatively poorly compared to MPEG-DASH, for example, this should be noted and borne in mind for future campaigns.
#6. Live Event Audiences
Live broadcasts offer unique benefits to advertisers, from concerts to sporting events. With an estimated 95% of total sports viewing happening live, each one-time broadcast can provide invaluable data on audience engagement and responsiveness. If an ad is broadcast once, and website traffic doubles during the following hour, there is a clear correlation between the two. This would be harder to determine when ads are being broadcast during pre-recorded content that could be watched at any time of day or night, or even months into the future.
#7. Completed Views
When an ad can be skipped, its success can be gauged more accurately than when viewing is compulsory. It may seem counter-intuitive to permit audiences to abandon an ad partway through, but it’s easier to determine what percentage of people engaged with the content – as opposed to turning their attention elsewhere. Obviously, the Holy Grail is a skippable ad that people continue to watch. However, examining the precise points at which viewers moved on can help an advertiser to front-load key messages in future campaigns, or redirect revenues to different platforms.