The Social Video Blueprint, Part 3: It’s About Views, Not Impressions

by MEDIAmobz MPS  18 August 2011

Out With The Old: Impressions

Impressions have been around as a measuring tool since the dawn of online advertising. But there’s a fundamental flaw when counting impressions: it cannot measure audience engagement. Impressions count the number of times an ad is displayed; there is no information regarding whether the viewer even sees it, let alone if they have high engagement levels with it or share it with their friends. Just raw display numbers.

Impressions are like highway billboards. You have some idea how many cars will drive by it, but no way of knowing how many–if any–looked at it, enjoyed it, or talked about it.

In with the New: Views

When a viewer chooses to watch a video–amateur or branded–they’re not surprised to then see that video play on their screen. After all… they chose to watch it. And what that does is lower guards. A viewer choosing to enter into a branded video experience is much more open to what it has to say. Pre-roll viewers–by comparison–are more likely to be annoyed or frustrated, putting them in less of a mood to be marketed to.

Impressions can tell you how many viewers watched an ad they didn’t ask for. But views can show you the number of viewers who asked for your video… chose it… requested to see it. That’s several rungs up the engagement-measurement ladder from raw impressions. Which is why cost-per-view is becoming a preferred online video advertising method for brands: instead of paying for raw “plays,” they pay only for the times their message is watched by willing viewers.

Social Video Views Trump Impressions

Until the day that brands can sit down and have a conversation with every ad viewer, there will always be unknowns in online video advertising. But the new technologies and techniques of social video allow us to learn far more about the audience than ever before. Once we can measure engagement through the power of views, we don’t really have as much use for impressions as we once did.

Just like email marketing moved small businesses a huge leap forward in marketing effectiveness over direct-mail print ads… so too views are providing brands with a vast improvement over impressions. There is a Grand Canyon of difference between a viewer being talked to and a viewer initiating the conversation with a video view.

And with today’s social media tools, social video also opens up a whole new level of engagement measurement with sharing data from YouTube, Facebook, & Twitter, which leads us straight into next week’s topic: Social Video Blueprint: It’s About Shares, Not Clicks


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