18 May Gawker – Internet Video Views is a 100% Bull$#!+ Metric
In addition to keeping up to date on the latest developments in the digital-marketing world, we also like to share content that’s critical of our industry (or close variants thereof), which helps refine our strategy in the long run. Basically, we don’t want to be ostriches, sticking our heads in the sand instead of facing challenges head-on.
Case in point is a recent article from Gawker that directs a fair amount of criticism toward video and the future of digital media. Some of the major points are not quite in line with what we at LMG do, since the author, Kevin Draper, limits much of his scope to the world of digital journalism. However, he does touch on some areas of video advertising that are worth sharing.
In fact, there’s a lot of good points raised in the article – and, while it may seem like I’m eager to refute them, there’s really not much I would disagree with. However, I do fear that someone reading this article may walk away erroneously believing that video has no place in promotions at all. To be clear, that’s not what Draper’s saying, either. In fact, he explicitly states that, “Video is the future of online media,” which is all the more reason to take a closer look at his arguments. These aren’t the only ones he makes; they’re the ones that stick out most to me.
1. Video will not be the savior of digital media
I can’t say as to whether or not conventional wisdom believes that video is the savior, but I think it’s more accurate to say that no single innovation or new development will ever be “the savior” of any industry. The technology itself, while occasionally being a necessary condition for success, is not a sufficient one; it needs a skillful integration and execution to be useful, much less profitable – but that’s not the same thing as saying that it can’t be profitable or even useful at all. By the same token, it also doesn’t mean that businesses should outright ignore innovation either, simply because there is no guarantee of its effectiveness.
2. Concurrent viewership and number of minutes watched are not comparable metrics.
Completely agree – and savvy advertisers or marketing reps should know the difference. Numbers can be inflated or misinterpreted as representing something they’re not, but viewership itself is not a completely useless metric – even Internet viewership. A large part of branding, for example, is based around the concept of promoting a product as quickly as possible to as many people as possible, and in that case, viewership can be extremely useful. In fact, one of the advantages of certain forms of Internet advertising is its ability to track both viewership and viewer duration (among other things) with a greater degree of accuracy than other, more traditional mediums, as well as break that viewership down into meaningful demographics – but the larger point is that one should be aware of what each of these metrics actually means.
3. The large disparity between print and digital ad rates is due to the fact that, online, we have better measurements of advertising’s ineffectiveness.
Here I do think Draper misspeaks, or at least he doesn’t stop to ask, “Ineffective compared to what?” I don’t think he means to say advertising is totally ineffective, but rather that the response is not as effective as advertisers would hope (of course it’s not). Going one step further, I think we can all conclude that the prices of Internet advertising are probably a much more accurate reflection of their actual value compared to the more traditional mediums – at the very least, it’s much more responsive.
But the bigger implication that I think escapes Draper is that, if he’s correct, the bubble is not with online media; instead it’s with everything else. All things being equal, that gap represents how much companies are overpaying for non-Internet-based advertising.
4. Video is going to produce more losers than winners.
Sure! The same way as playing the stock market, starting a business, or eating Taco Bell is going to produce more losers than winners (I’m speaking in the long-term here): Failure in business is a common thing, maybe all too common, and that goes back to integration and execution. Knowing what you want to accomplish and having a solid plan to do so is crucial to success in any avenue. Just as in SEO, the point is not to drive as much traffic as possible, but rather to drive relevant traffic – or, more simply, “Go for quality, not quantity.”
To me, the major takeaway of the article is “Don’t misunderstand your metrics.” That may go without saying, but it’s smart to keep it in mind all the same. Similarly, it’s also good to keep in mind that not all video services are strictly limited to advertising, but that may be a discussion for another day.
Bottom line: For a business looking to invest in video advertising, beware of those “shady advertisers” promising something they can’t deliver and claiming the numbers mean something they don’t. For companies offering video advertising (or anything else), be transparent and honest about what all those impressive-looking charts you deliver at the end of the month mean – whether it’s good news or bad.