In a column last week in Digiday, “Cost Per Engagement is a Mirage,” SpotXchange executive Bryon Evje asserted that engagement is merely an effect of great targeting, and that it’s impossible for any company to guarantee engagement, especially across a network of premium sites.

Unfortunately, that is the conventional wisdom not just in digital video but throughout the entire online advertising landscape. It’s also not true. Anyone credibly claiming the only effective use of video advertising technology is to target an audience index and sell on a CPM basis shows that too many players still don’t understand how brand advertising works.
Advertising is not about spraying ads across a group of sites to reach an audience that is inferred to be females 25 to 54 years old. It’s not about serving an ad because you think you have the right content adjacency. It’s not about buying ads on an exchange because a third-party cookie claims you have an audience match.
Which buy is more likely to interest a brand advertiser? One where they pay a guaranteed CPM up front, to simply hit an index of an audience? One where they only pay for meaningful engagements with their potential customers?
The article was right about one thing: Targeting technology is a great start to a video campaign. All advertisers want to hit their desired audience in the right place, and technology exists right now to do that. But optimization can’t end at the site level.
Technology has to learn about the consumer, the video content and other factors at the “moment of engagement,” so it can find more of these moments to drive brand lift and brand health and, ultimately, connect them to actual purchase.
That’s why the companies leading this charge are adding analytics to their offering. Any company that can’t be transparent and show a marketer how its advertising actually works is going to be left out in the cold. What’s the point of selling a guaranteed audience if you can’t show your client what made the campaign successful? Or help them replicate that success, online and offline?
Our technology starts by ingesting the video content itself. We monitor the visual cues, listen to the audio, read the page, categorize the content and ensure that it is brand safe. At the moment of ad engagement, we look at the viewer, what types of video he or she has watched and a host of other factors, like the site the video is viewed on, browser type, geography, frequency of exposure and more. We build a model of the consumer who engages with the advertiser’s message, and then we find more of them to help achieve the marketer’s objective. All of this happens in less than 1/100th of a second to drive the result that brands buy from us: more engagement.
Engagement is good for viewers, advertisers and publishers. It is imperative to satisfy all three. Guaranteed engagement is not a mirage. Successful companies aren’t adding analytics to their product offering to cover up shortcomings. They’re adding them because what existed before was woefully inadequate to uncover the true effects of campaigns on brand health. Marketers should demand this kind of in-depth criteria-based analytics from their video provider. Not having this power will prove they are just another pre-roll ad network/exchange.
Jason Krebs is chief media officer of Tremor Video. Follow him on Twitter @jasonkrebs.
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