Corus joins group seeking better social video metrics for marketers

Toronto’s Corus Entertainment has joined a new media industry group working together to create better social video metrics.

Measurement of social video has long been a pain point for marketers and their agency partners, largely due to a lack of shared metrics across the industry. The Global Video Measurement Alliance (GVMA) launched in January with the express intent of correcting that problem by establishing performance metrics to evaluate the global reach and engagement of online video publishers.

Dervla Kelly, senior vice-president of marketing for Corus and head of the company’s social digital agency so.da, says that clients are increasingly seeking standardized and more “formal” metrics that go beyond the traditional vanity metrics.

“Before, we could get away with not having them, [but] clients are demanding these types of business-style metrics now,” says Kelly, noting that the introduction of standardized metrics is “long overdue.”

Along with Corus, Viacom and Ellen Digital Network (which generates more than 1 billion monthly views) have also joined the group, which includes founding members Vice, BuzzFeed and Group Nine.

The GVMA initiative is spearheaded by the San Francisco-based social analytics firm Tubular Labs, which claims to analyze one trillion video views each month.

Along with introducing the newest members Friday, Tubular Labs unveiled two new cross-platform reach and engagement metrics: de-duplicated unique viewers, and minutes watched.

Howard Shimmel, former chief research officer at Turner and the president of Janus Strategy & Insights, said in a release that the new metrics represent the first move towards parity with websites—which have long been able to supply these types of metrics—by social video.

At the moment, performance metrics can vary widely by platform. The GVMA says it is developing time-based thresholds that will enable media companies and brands to equate those views, saying they will represent “a big step forward” in unifying global content measurement.

Introducing the GVMA earlier this year, Tubular Labs founder and CEO Rob Gabel said that a lack of measurement transparency is holding back the industry from investing in video at scale, leaving billions of dollars on the table. “We need 21st century measurement solutions to address these problems, modernizing the approach and execution around video campaigns,” said Gabel.

Gabel said that measurement has failed to keep pace with a modern media landscape that involves an increasing amount of time spent with video, as well as the advent of “millions of meaningful creators, publishers and brands” and truly global audiences.

Writing for Forbes earlier this year, TV, broadcast and digital expert/author Alan Wolk called this lack of standardization one of the “Four Horsemen of the Digital Ad Apocalypse,” alongside fraud, brand safety and viewability. He said that standardization would be “a necessary step” for publishers to regain advertisers’ trust.

Speaking with The Drum, Vice’s president of digital Josh Cogswell said that the existing measurement solutions fail to adequately measure the types of KPIs that brands are increasingly interested in.

 The GVMA was first announced in January, with participants spending the past several months in closed-door meetings, reviewing technical challenges and developing content measurement solutions in tandem with Tubular Labs’ data science and engineering teams.

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The move comes as social video content shows no sign of slowing, despite any advertiser unease.

Kelly says that so.da alone is posting as many as 1,500 pieces of content each week for clients including Cheerios, Nature Valley and Old El Paso.

Its social video efforts include #OneDirtyDish sponsored by Knorr and #DestinationDishes sponsored by CIBC Aventura.

“That just gives us a huge repository of data to really deeply understand what’s performing and what’s working, what drives the algorithms and the ability to integrate advertisers into our content,” she says.

So.da currently has nine social AOR accounts, says Kelly, reflecting the growing importance of social video in overall marketing strategy. “They have to [create] a lot of content—weekly if not daily,” she says. “That’s a pretty significant investment for brands.

“And you not only need the video team, but a deep understanding and knowledge of what is happening in the space so you don’t have to pay to play.”

Chris Powell