Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Metric That Is Great News For Creatives

Creatives were always against any measuring of our work (except by awards juries).

We scoffed at brand tracking studies, despised research, and when told that our ad had failed to achieve certain metrics would protest, citing Albert Einstein, that "Not everything that counts can be counted."

But this attitude has now changed dramatically.

A new metric has arrived, which has become almost a new form of currency in advertising - YouTube views.

I've known Creatives to check their YouTube view-count up to three times daily, following the release of a new viral ad.

Okay, that was me.

But I bet you've done it too.

Interestingly, the interests of Creatives and Clients are now (perhaps for the first time) aligned. We both want exactly the same thing: lots of views.

The result is work - brilliant work - like this:

7 million views so far. And it's for P&G.


The company that is also still capable of putting out work like this:

This one has only 2,000 views.

And that gives me tremendous hope.

Clients have always cared about what can be measured. And now that the boredom of a boring ad is so acutely measurable, they'll view that as a failure. To put it another way, since only cool stuff gets lots of YouTube views, hopefully all clients will now want only cool stuff.

Am I being too simplistic?

I don't think so. History provides many examples of new measurement techniques prompting significant behavioural change. Advanced analysis of baseball stats led to different types of players being hired. Advanced political polling led to different types of policies being adopted.

So surely the coalescing of interest around this new metric... will lead to a different and better type of ad being made?


Unknown said...

YouTube view count surely beats research groups. As long as the views aren't bought.

P&G should put their Head & Shoulders ad on as a pre-roll to their Mom spot, then they both get as many views. Two ads for the price of one!

? said...

But much of the most popular stuff on YouTube is cat videos.

I don't think they are cool.

Isn't there a risk that in following this metric we will dumb down, pander to lowest common denominator? P&G might get 10 million views with his great piece of creative work with a lot of thought behind it, but 'very angry cat' has more than 85 million views.

Scamp said...

It's true that cat videos get lots of views. But that illustrates an important truth - people like entertainment, not lectures. And hey, not all cat videos are dumb. British mobile company O2's take on the cat video - Be More Dog - was actually pretty smart.

Kevin said...

"Am I being too simplistic?"

Yes, while P&G spot is still an excellent piece of ad, its safe to say big amount of that is a paid view. Also, consider that there's PR push done across the net to ensure there's a coverage for the particular ad.

+ If you hate at the thought of clients just asking for 'viral content', why would you start using the youtube view as a measurement...?

Scamp said...

Actually, Kevin, I would be delighted if all clients asked for 'viral content', since there seems to be an understanding that only cool stuff goes viral. Hence, all we would be making from now on would be cool stuff. That would be neat, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

eeh, a good spot during corry could be seen by 5 million peeps. that's just in the uk alone. and then it'll be seen again in the next ad break. still, t'internet's cheap, in't it?

Anonymous said...

youtube's an entertainment channel so as long as your ad is entertaining, chances are it will do well.

Look at the van damme ad for volvo...i reckon the genius in it is they took a conscious (and brave) decision to make the spot about van damme and not the truck, otherwise it would have failed...and so was born one of the more memorable VOs penned in ad history.

To compare the 2 P&G ads on youtube is a bit disingenuous as both have very different objectives.

The Mom ad is not selling anything specific but a fuzzy 'aren't moms great' has a great insight and isnt burdened with any kind of sell at all.

The shampoo ad however is totally different in its purpose and audience. It needs to sell some liquid, so of course the message is a bit commercial (crass by online standards)...and people online always reject this.

There is no way the above 2 ads and their statistics can be compared.

Ant Melder said...

Hi Scamp.

The You Tube views thing works well as a metric for awareness and talkability but often our job as creatives extends way beyond that. Depending on the brief the client may be looking to measure behaviour change, sales uplift etc. Surely it's no good saying to a client who desperately needed to flog more product, "Don't worry, at least loads of people watched the You Tube video"?

By the way, on the subject of You Tube views and cat videos, please check this one's for a good cause!

Anonymous said...

Yes, number of views on YouTube is an active measure of how widely seen a piece of content is (but as people said the measure includes drives to content, paid placement and PR and social pushes, so is in part a measure of how well the spot is merchandised)

And you could say that "More views means more people interested - more interesting content"

But what the views don't say is how engaging, interesting or motivating the spots actually are.

Views measure the entertainment side of the equation (albeit roughly and inaccurately) but not the commercial side.

Has the spot changed a behavior? Has the spot communicated what we needed it to communicate? Has the spot CHANGED something in the world? Do people remember who / what it's for? Do we know what the audience take out was?

So I'd say that yes, this is a pretty simple minded analysis. It feels good to know that people are viewing your stuff. It's good for the ego. But it doesn't tell us whether they liked it, whether they shared it or whether it changed their likelihood to buy... and in the end, THAT'S what really matters.

Anonymous said...

YT Views are notoriously dodgy as a metric for anyone but the client and creatives. They can be bought "legitimately" via pre-roll and just out-and-out bought from places like Gigaviews where a million views can be had for less than a 1000 dollars. The more useful figure is completion rates and if you're up above 75%-80% you're doing something right. And anyway, as Nick Chapin from Kameleon wrote recently "'s far better to talk to 100,000 of the right people than 5 million of the wrong people"

Cody Naetzker said...

I think the following statistics
solve this debate quite thoroughly.

YouTube created: February 14, 2005

Reclaimed: 1475 2.6% of total cats
Rehomed: 16150 28.8% of total cats
In Stock: 1111 2.0% of total cats
Transferred: 1283 2.3% of total cats
Euthanased 35934 64.0% of total cats
Total: 56126 41.5% of total animals

Reclaimed 2,166 4.1% of total cats
Rehomed 20,489 39.1% of total cats
Currently in Care: 2,996 5.7% of total cats
Transferred: 1,419 2.7% of total cats
Euthanased 24,651 47.1% of total cats
Other 616 1.1% of total cats
Total cats 52,337 39.79% of total animals

As you can see, since the launch of YouTube and resulting cat videos, cat stats are on the up and up.


Bentos said...

Is Van Damme selling trucks?

1.1M views for a really boring video of a Volvo engineer talking about articulated lorries reversing

All because of Van Damme

Seems to me Van Damme is doing a hell of a better job of selling trucks than that second P&G video is of selling shampoo

Procrastinator said...

1. Even if clients are buying views, they still want the bonus views delivered by good content. So P&G bought 7 million views, that ad is still viewed as a (well-managed) failure. If they bought a million, it's a success.

2. The recent work done by the IPA and BrainJuicer (among others) very clearly points to fame as the sole aim of an ad and brand recognition being way less important that we think. All an ad can really do is drive penetration, so that's all it should do. YouTube views are a brilliant proxy for understanding the fame of an ad.

3. The ways of measuring "engagement" and "motivation" are ridiculous. Millward Brown themselves have admitted that there is no correlation between things that they can measure (intention to purchase) and what happens in real life (actual purchase). The whole "The role of the ad is to do x" thing is misguided.

tl;dr YouTube views are a very effective proxy measure of the success of an ad.

(@Bentos - you'd be surprised about the traction of "boring content". For a great example, see Disney Collector. 1.2 BILLION (BILLION!) views in three years. It blows my mind.)

Bentos said...

@Procrastinator that was exactly the point I was making. Check out Ceilume, the Ceiling Tile guy, a small business from Nowheresville USA.

1.9M total views, for FAQ videos about ceiling tiles.

For reference Captain Morgan's expensive, sexy pirate videos have 2.3M

Jim Powell said...

I am not convinced that metric will make for betters ads.

Looking for viral ideas or memes which takes its idea from biology is demeaning. A meme exists ONLY to be reproduced. That is its purpose.

If reproducing is important then look to see what works best as a meme and be a meme of that. More cats, more babies.

Isn't it more likely to lead to briefs about which emotion should we be using to become a meme. More joy etc?

Doesn't good advertising has more purposes than that? Isn't it degrading to see it's sole purpose to be a meme.

Take some moving film and sponsor it falls into this theory of creating memes. P & G sponsor mums? Do they sponsor my mum? Yours?

Isn't this a degrading view of humanity? That this often special relationship is sponsored?

It is nice film I concede that.

The hard technical facts of the shampoo ad aren't spectacular I grant you that. Yuk. Yet they are not disingenuous are they? They treat the consumer as reasoning they just lack charm and artistry to my mind.

And ask people what Head and Shoulders purpose is and guess what they will tell you?

Ask people what P & G purpose is?

I think their is a growing problem that advertising treats people as '100%' emotional meat bags.

Jim Powell said...

18 million views about a new tooth brush? How it works, why it work better than other solutions and then done in a humorous way?

Would it have got so many views with the free sample stuck on the end?

Scamp said...

These are very intelligent, thought-provoking comments, Jim. Are you sure you're on the right blog?