Views and viewability
I’m told that the view from Corcovado, the mountain atop which the giant Christ looms over Rio de Janeiro, is breath-taking. The view of Sydney Harbour at night from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is also a sight to behold. London from the Eye isn’t exactly bad on a clear day. However the view of the bins out the back of Budgens in Crouch End is less appealing, unless bins are your thing. Maybe you’re a fox.
My point is that not all views are the same quality. This applies to panoramic views as well as to video views, which are the type I’m more interested in professionally.
However, we’re in a time where video views often do get treated as though they are equivalents. Video is everywhere – the phrase ‘video is everywhere’ is everywhere – and boasts about numbers of ‘views’ spew from the numberwang spigot; a meaningless look-at-my-big-number game, where quality of context is either not counted or just ignored.
And pretend equivalence is rendered even more meaningless when you consider the questionable reliability and worth of some of the ‘view’ numbers and the definitions of ‘viewability’ that they rely on. Standing on Corcovado luxuriating in an un-blinkered view of Rio for half an hour is very different from standing on Corcovado with a fraction of Rio in your peripheral vision for a couple of seconds. Bob Wootton has written well and less metaphorically on viewability recently in his piece ‘The five horsemen of the digital apocalypse’.
Two other great articles related to this topic have appeared in the last week and I want to draw your attention to them also.
The first, ‘May I Define Your Attention, Please?’, by media executive Joe Marchese, was pointed out to me by the lovely people at Videology. It makes the valuable point that views are not the same as viewers and adding up a month’s worth of online views to compare it with the audience of a single TV programme is an apples and oranges approach.
The second, ‘Some Views are More Equal than Others’, by Rob Norman, GroupM’s Chief Digital Officer, makes the point that Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook’s conception of ‘views’ are all so different and come with so little standardised information – like number of unique viewers a day or month; average number of seconds a video is viewed per unique viewer; autoplay vs. viewer initiated – that it is impossible to meaningfully compare them with each other – and that’s before you try comparing them with TV.
Thinkbox is guilty of comparing the incomparable too, but we do it with good intentions. For ages we were asked to show how TV sat in the new, expanding video universe. So we used all the official, available joint industry figures we could get to create the chart below which breaks down the average person in the UK’s daily video diet.
But of course this is quantity, not quality. Our next task is look at the video landscape in terms of its quality and opportunity for advertisers. We just need to figure out the best way to do it – all views welcome.