Earlier this year, a sample of North American marketing leaders from companies with annual revenues of over $250 million were asked which metrics they considered most important in assessing the success of online video ad campaigns. 

Click-through rate (CTR) came out on top, with 56% of those surveyed naming it the most important metric. Social shares came second, ranked highly by 40%. Further down the list, after number of impressions and number of completed videos (both with 31%) came direct sales, which was identified as a key metric by only 27% of senior marketers.  

It is a well-worn idea that we fail to learn from the past and make the same mistakes over and over again. CTR is now mostly discredited as a serious performance metric in display as we are able to attribute ads through to sales. So, it is amazing that CTR is valued so highly in a medium that is even less disposed to clicking than standard display. It’s all very well saying that online video is more measurable than TV but holding CTR up as important does not make sense either in terms of a branding goal or a performance KPI.

Meanwhile, a separate survey conducted around the same time revealed that 78% of CMOs believe their employers use sales growth as a key metric to judge the success of marketing campaigns.

It seems there is a disconnect in the thinking of senior marketers that is preventing them from unlocking the full potential of their online video ad campaigns and optimising the return on their investment in video campaigns, which, on average, is continuing to increase every year. In most cases, this disconnect arises through the over-reliance on outdated metrics like CTR, which fail to recognise the true capabilities of contemporary video ad formats.

Focused targeting

With an apparent disconnect towards campaign metrics, the industry is under pressure to address the gap in the marketplace for metrics that tie sales directly to video advertising, while guaranteeing viewability and qualified leads. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that the targeting takes advantage of the best opportunities that online advertising has to offer, namely intent data.

However, many advertisers are still failing to exploit the advantages of online video by simply transferring the broad targeting methods and creative approach traditionally used for TV-based campaigns.

With TV, lots of people are still buying media using very general audience demographics – e.g. 18- to 24-year-olds – based on whatever Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board can tell you about the audience of a particular show or timeslot. Fair enough but why are lots of marketers now carrying over TV-style demographics online when they have the opportunity to be far more specific and focused with their online targeting and spending?

Metrics and demographics aren’t the only things being carried over from traditional TV ad campaigns into the online video ad arena – there’s also the nature of the creative campaigns themselves.

Get creative about sales

The US auto sector acts as an excellent illustration of the different approaches required by TV and online video campaigns. Consider the traditional car advert: the highly expensive creative will usually feature the sleek, gleaming lines of the car itself, often filmed at high speed in an expansive, glamorous location. The idea is to trigger the desire of potential buyers and create brand recall.

However, if you transfer that same creative online, where campaigns are judged on CTR for all its faults and increase in sales, it simply doesn’t work as a performance driving tool. What the company really wants from its online advertising is to drive enquiries and footfall to its local dealerships but the TV ads don’t reference dealerships anywhere.

The implementation of innovative online ad formats offer marketers targeting and interactivity options to help tailor and personalise the creative displayed, enabling marketers to reach desired consumers across the entire funnel while holding video accountable to verified performance metrics.

Your choice is simple – would you prefer to report higher CTRs or that your company has sold more? It’s time to forget about the way things have always been done and exploit the sales power of online video campaigns.