Engagement Is the Holy Grail: Video Q&A With James Grant, UK Manager, VINDICO Group

Driving User Engagement with Online Video

A recent report from VINDICO Group cites research over 30bn impressions confirming that completion rate is a better metric for online video than CTR. As we head toward OPS TV, we sat down with James Grant, UK Manager of VINDICO Group, to get his take on online video metrics and engagement. If you’d like to learn more, VINDICO Group President Matt Timothy will be speaking at OPS TV on July 11th in NYC.

Is there a one true metric for online video? Obviously, not CTR, but why is completion rate a better indication of performance? What are your thoughts on GRPs?

Measurement across all media is a moving beast as consumers’ living habits are constantly changing, so I wouldn’t say there is one true metric. Right now the industry is recognising that completion is an excellent metric, but the Holy Grail of all advertising is engagement – as an industry we’ll keep driving for the best metric, in the meantime, completion is a great way of understanding the performance of your ad – clearly consumers switch off when they aren’t interested. GRPs are a trading currency instead of an engagement metric and until the industry can standardise screen time measurement between competing measurement bodies then clients/agencies will always be looking for the best solution, GRPs are an already trusted measurement tool. 

What chief insights can be derived from your findings on abandonment? 

Abandonment is a commonplace metric in advertising, but we discovered similarities by content type in online video that advertisers may want to consider. If advertisers only buy certain content genres on their video plan then by understanding the data they could develop creative to acknowledge abandonment data and still have a message window to the user.

The report also suggests dynamic branded (ahem, interactive) elements boost brand exposure. What are some of the more effective uses of this technique? What are advertisers and publishers glossing over?  

Interactive, dynamic, branded – essentially we are seeing the evolution of Video creative. Brands and buyers are testing numerous creative options in order to find the right balance between brand effectiveness and user engagement.  If a brand has lots of additional, engaging content they are seeing real success in offering this additionally within the original pre-roll, especially as the user makes a considered choice to view the content and engage further with the brand. At the opposite end of the spectrum a simple overlay can be a very effective call to action if a brand wants a two-way conversation with the user. I don’t believe there is any ‘glossing over’, instead we are seeing publishers and advertisers testing user reactions to creativity within video.

At the same, dynamic creative can cause all kinds of nightmares – what operational hangups are plaguing advertisers and publishers? How are they overcoming these obstacles?

Users expect to see their video across all screens…regardless of different operating systems, physical screen size or delivery mechanisms. Publishers are working hard to both understand and deploy various technical solutions to these issues but they cost time, resource and money. The focus will always be on user experience and so typically any issues suffered by publishers will be passed onto the advertisers in some form or other. It’s one of the reasons there are so many competing technical platforms in the current market but you are starting to see consolidation in the sector and the clear emergence of some platforms. Consolidation and industry standards remain the way forward for resolving operational and technical issues.

How is ad ops making its mark in the evolving video landscape? Ad Ops is increasingly important in the video landscape.

Get it right and the buyer/brand delivers a seamless user experience, a multi-device video message and receives data that enables much more effective future communications. Personally I believe that buyers and advertisers need to take control of the creative delivery point – this is where they can enable transparency and control more effective communications.

What do you see as the overarching trend in the video advertising marketplace at the moment? What’s on the horizon?

Growth, growth and more growth! Digital video is still growing into the television screen, it is still growing into the tablet space (you typically can’t download content onto iPads for example) and it is yet to really feature in the mobile space so all of those present exciting opportunities and huge potential for growth. In the current landscape I think formats will become much more prevalent across all publishers and I think buyers will increasingly push for more data from their buy – Europe as a market is way behind the US when we are still trying to implement industry standards (VAST or VPAID) across top ten publishers in multiple European markets and at a time when brands are increasingly globalizing they will expect to see those standards enacted.


Pondering the future of TV and digital video? OPS TV will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss the intersection of digital video and TV advertising. Register today for OPS TV, which will be held July 11, 2012, in New York.