YouTube Changes Video Ad ‘Engagement’ Register from 30 Seconds Watch Time to 10 Seconds

The debate over what should count as a video view has gone on for years. Facebook counts a view at 3 seconds, which pushes up the platform’s overall video view stats, particularly due to autoplay. Snapchat counts a video view as soon as a Snap loads. Each platform facilitates different user behavior, so it’s hard to say exactly what should count as a video view, but it is important to note the variance in reporting.

Which is why this update is important. YouTube, which has long had the most generous video view metrics (views are counted when a viewer watches at least 30 seconds or to the end of the video, whichever is shorter) is now updating the engagement metrics on its TrueView for action ads:

As per YouTube:

Our system will now count an ‘Engagement’ whenever a user clicks or watches 10 seconds or more of your TrueView for action ad using maximize conversions or target CPA bidding.”

Note the change in measurement is only for TrueView for action ads and will not alter YouTube’s overall view count metrics in general reporting. But for advertisers paying for such engagements, the calculations will be different.

So why the change?

YouTube says the update will better reflect the impact of video ads.

“People don’t always take action on video ads in the moment – they often convert a couple days after their viewing session. For instance, say you had been thinking about making your home a little smarter, for the sake of efficiency and shaving some money off your utility bills. You see a video ad on YouTube for the Nest smart thermostat that piques your interest, but you’re not quite ready to buy it right there in the moment. You decide to do a bit more research before ultimately purchasing it online a few days later. That video you saw on YouTube didn’t drive the click, but it planted the seed.”

Basically, YouTube’s saying that the current measurement (30 seconds with a 30 day conversion window) is not as accurate a representation of the modern purchase journey as these updated measurements (10 seconds with a 3 day default conversion window), which more heavily weight exposure as part of the discovery and purchase cycle, as opposed to message delivery in full.

It’s hard to say what impact that change will have on ad billing and exposure, but if you’re using TrueView ads, it’d be worth keeping tabs on your data over the next few months to note any changes in performance.

And also worth noting, YouTube says that over 90% of consumers now discover new products and brands on YouTube, and that watch time for YouTube videos on “which product to buy” has doubled year over year.

There’s no doubt that YouTube, with its 1.8 billion active users, can drive significant brand awareness and reach benefits, and with the platform also having the leg up in terms of reaching users on their home TV sets (viewing of YouTube content on home TV sets has also doubled, year-over-year), it stands to benefit most from the digital TV boom. This new update will likely help better monetize such.

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