Video Viewability in a Social World

It seems like everyday there’s a new article about video viewability – new standards, how to measure it, what exactly it even means.  The topic is all the more important given the explosion in video advertising and massive amount of ad dollars being allocated to this medium. Just this morning, eMarketer reported that “Nearly 70% of UK and US marketers have moved TV ad budgets to programmatic video”. This year, eMarketer estimates programmatic video will surge nearly 212% to $2.18 BILLION (which still represents a relatively small portion of the total video ad market).

Among US digital media buyers and suppliers polled by Integral Ad Science in December 2014, programmatic video ranked as the area that would experience the greatest growth in 2015.
Not sure if social video ads fall into the “programmatic” realm (doesn’t it all these days!?!?!) but here too we’re seeing huge growth, with Facebook and YouTube experiencing a massive influx of video advertising. So with all this growth, we’d expect there to be questions around measurement and how to value video ads. eMarketers report includes a breakdown of the top KPIs and you guessed it, viewability is at the top:

video viewability

Viewability is important, for many reasons, but considering the investment required to make video in the first place, as a business pouring ad dollars into this medium, I want be confident REAL people are seeing, and engaging with, my video content. So while the major players in the programmatic space argue about what “viewability” is or isn’t and how to deal with it (according to recent studies, nearly 25% of video ad views are fraudelent.), I honestly feel social has the opportunity to prove itself as an extremely capable, and even preferred method, for video advertising. Why? Placement. (As well as crazy powerful targeting of course.) Video ads on social (specifically YouTube, Facebook & Twitter in this case) appear front and center, in a users feed. Especially with mobile, it’s nearly impossible not to see this content.

How do Facebook, Twitter and YouTube even measure viewability? It varies, but each argues they have VERY high viewability rates:

  • Advertisers are charged only if a user has watched more than 30 seconds, or to the end of the video, which ever comes first
  • According to Google (hah) YouTube viewability is close to 91% (read their viewability study here –


  • Advertisers only pay when a video is watched for three or more seconds
  • Ad is “viewable” the instant any part of it appears on a users’s screen
  • Auto-play is a huge factor here (realistically most Facebook users don’t realize they can deactivate autoplay in their settings) and the video campaigns we run for clients often see over 75% of views stemming from auto-pay
  • Facebook claims its ads are 100% viewable


  • Just yesterday, announced 100% viewability “promise” on video ads – ad has to be 100% in view
  • Prior to this announcement, users had to click on the video ad to get charged. Now they too are joining the auto-play world

The conversation about viewability isn’t new, but it’s heating up and we expect in the end consumers will be the ones to (hopefully!) benefit. That being said, it’s up to the marketers themselves (and the agencies) to make sure to carefully look at a variety of metrics – engagement, website traffic, sales –  to determine if video is effective.


Ian Mackie About the author
No Comments

Leave a Comment: