Advertisers frequently debate the advantages of programmatic versus direct buying. While programmatic buys can provide brands with scalability and are more efficient in terms of spend, questionable ad placements can negatively impact consumers’ perceptions of brands. However, despite the poor placement quality of programmatic banner ads, adoption of social programmatic ad buying is increasing as brands are lured by the promise of enhanced re-targeting capabilities.

On YouTube, brands have zero control over ad placement. This issue reached a boiling point in March, when reports of advertisements showing next to extremist videos prompted a complete ad boycott from over 250 advertisers including Audi, HSBC, McDonald’s, and Toyota.

To add to brands’ woes (pun intended), many discussions during VidCon questioned the accuracy and reliability of YouTube’s key metric (views). While views are a good qualifier of scale, they aren’t the right metric to measure the ROI of published content and ads.

The end goal with video content will always be getting people to watch. Therefore, brands and publishers have shifted their focus from relying on the number of views to understanding average watch times.  A key objective for brands investing in video content has been to drive reach. With organic views accounting for less than 24% of total views, brands are taking a more strategic approach towards promoted ad buying on social.

Organic view rate

YouTube boasts higher watch times than social media behemoth Facebook, with the average watch time for branded videos ranging from 43-71 seconds, according to L2’s Video report. Given that YouTube’s rich content commands higher production value, brands are optimizing their spend to get more bang for their buck. By combining views and watch times, brands can better understand what’s working and maximize their reach with video by investing heavily in videos with above-average watch rates.

Average views

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