View-Through Rate (VTR)

March 1, 2018
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Glossary

What is VTR?

View-through rate, or VTR, is a way of measuring audience reception for your ad and, subsequently, your company or product. VTR uses completed views, or the number of viewers who watch the video ad through to the end, as its main indicator of audience interest.

[image: VTR diagram]

The importance of video ad completion stems from factors like:

  • Video ads’ need to hold audience attention for a certain period to achieve the biggest impact
  • Advertisers often placing the strongest calls to action (CTAs) at the end of the video ad

While metrics like impressions or clicks still dominate video ad analytics, many industry members consider VTR a useful secondary metric for validating or enhancing the insights delivered by these popular measurements.

How Does VTR Work?

By dint of viewing completed views as signs of audience interest, VTR applies to skippable ads — that is, ads that give viewers the choice to keep watching or not.

Code embedded in the video player or the webpage monitor how far into the video ad a viewer reaches. In many cases, ad servers attach conversion tracking code (more commonly known as “cookies”) to the video ad to help find correlations between ad viewing and subsequent user behavior. These cookies make it possible to track any viewers who, for example, visit your company website or product page sometime after being exposed to your video ad. Depending on your ad server’s methods and your own parameters for ad performance measurement, cases like those can also be counted as part of your ad’s view-through rate.

At the most basic level, though, you can get VTR using a simple equation:

[illustration of VTR equation]

What Can VTR Do for You?

The goal of any video ad is to convert viewers into customers. To see how effectively they’ve achieved that, advertisers often use click-through as a measurement. Clicks signal that the viewer has followed the pathway intended to funnel them from video ad to company website or product page. The sooner that happens for a viewer, the better.

In that sense, VTR has a big blind spot. When users click on an ad, they naturally don’t finish it, and they’re not counted as a completed view. It’s therefore entirely possible to have successful ads with low VTRs — and high click-through rates (CTRs) practically guarantee cases like these.

In addition, VTR doesn’t account for the specific circumstances that lead to a completed view. A user who got up to grab a drink and left your ad to play, for example, counts the same as one who chose to watch your ad all the way through. Completed views, then, can include some misleading tallies, and that can carry over to VTR measurements.

However, this doesn’t mean VTR isn’t useful. While VTR by itself can’t be used as a foolproof measure of ad failure or success, it’s a good supporting metric for validating other measurements like clicks or impressions.

Display ads, for example, are known to have very low click-through rates — too low to provide enough relevant data for your ad performance assessments. VTR can help paint a clearer, more comprehensive picture by showing you who’s interested in your company or product beyond those who liked your ad enough to click it. In other words, VTR can move your analysis from using the “all or nothing, sale or not” perspective of a click-only assessment to a more sophisticated spectrum of audience interest.

Likewise, VTR can add a degree of nuance to your ad’s impression count. Impressions let you gauge how many people your ad has reached, but they don’t measure how interested those people were. Completion of a video ad is a good, albeit indirect, signal of audience interest. In turn, VTR can give you a better sense of how many of those impressions were actually effective, and in what demographics.

That ability to drill down into the details of your completed views leads to VTR’s long-term uses:

  • as an indicator of brand awareness growth;
  • and as a tool for refining your ad campaign for greater impact and returns.

VTR details show you which audiences are interested in your brand, company, or product. While these audiences might not have become instant customers, their willingness to watch your ad indicate that they’re still prime candidates to be part of your customer base in the future. With VTR data, you can identify these audiences, assess their characteristics and preferences, and tweak your ad campaign to appeal to them more.

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