Video Advertising - Understanding ROI

As any video agency can attest to, the effectiveness of video is pretty much undisputed amongst marketers and the companies that use them regularly. Accurately measuring your return on investments is another matter entirely though, which is why I thought it high time we turned our attention to the tricky subject of how to measure the return on investment in video.


Goal Setting

Most marketing videos won’t go viral. It’s important from the outset of any video marketing campaign that you are always realistic about your goals. Basing the success of your video on it going viral is not only naive but will actually hamper your entire campaign by setting unrealistic goals, leading to poorly defined metrics for measuring ROI.

The success of your video marketing campaign should be measured on clearly defined goals. These goals aren’t fixed but will vary from one piece of content to another, depending on where it falls on the help, hub, hero content spectrum. For example, the measure of success and ROI of a low budget how-to video on your YouTube Channel will be very different from your latest television commercial or brand film.

Any discussion about ROI first needs therefore to have an appreciation of what it is you want to achieve as well as what you can realistically achieve. As I’ve alluded to, a joined up content strategy will look at creating a range of help, hub and hero videos that satisfy various marketing objectives; from direct selling to driving customer loyalty and building brand awareness.

Understanding what each video is setting out to do will help you decide which video metrics to track and how to interpret them in the context of your marketing strategy.

Understanding Video Marketing Through Stats and Analysis

Video Marketing Metrics

Let’s turn our attention now to those all-important video marketing metrics. I’ve broken these down into three distinct groups. As I’ve mentioned, the weighting you should give each metric is dependent on the goals of your video.


Reach and Retention

  • Search Rankings: Getting your videos in front of the right people can be achieved in a number of ways and one of these is through search engines such as Google and YouTube. Measuring where your video ranks for specific keywords is a good metric to track for videos that fall in the help category as they will often be reliant on answering specific queries or addressing specific issues.
  • Views: The most obvious but also the most misleading metric to track. Views give you a good indication of reach but that’s not always associated with success. Views are also measured differently on different platforms (a YouTube view is only recorded after 30 seconds of a video is watched whereas Facebook views are only 3 seconds).
  • Play Rate: Whilst views give you a raw figure, play rate gives you a bit more context by showing you the percentage of visitors to a page playing on your video. This is a very useful metric to track for videos that appear on your website or a landing page as it will help you ascertain how well the video is positioned and how relevant it is to the page it’s on.
  • Watch time: Also referred to as engagement level, this is a very powerful metric as it shows how long viewers are watching your video, expressed as a percentage of overall runtime. As a general rule, the lower the percentage, the less engrossing your video. This is especially pertinent if your CTA is at the end of your video and may suggest that your videos are too long.

Tracking social engagement in order to determine ROI

Social Engagement

  • Subscribers: This is a very powerful metric to look at for hub and help videos as it’s this body of regular content that you want to be using to drive up your subscriber base and with it, your social reach. This metric can be further dissected by looking at the demographic and geographic makeup of your new subscribers. Are they your target market? If not, why not?
  • Feedback: Feedback in the form of comments or personal messages can give you powerful and useful insights into where you’re going wrong and what you’re doing right. In this sense, comments go above and beyond social shares and likes, by offering you qualitative data that you can feed back into your ongoing strategy. On the downside, it is hard to quantify comments although it should be obvious to gauge the general tone.
  • Social Shares: The bellwether of the viral video, social shares are also a general indicator of how well your videos are being received amongst your target audience and their potential reach across social media platforms. Social shares are also linked to subscriber and follower increases. The more shares the more new subscribers you can attract and vice versa.
  • Backlinks: The number and quality of links pointing to your video is a powerful indication that your video is winning fans outside of the normal social media circles. Backlinks to content hosted on your site will also boost that web page’s SEO and its ability to rank in search engines like YouTube and Google.
  • Press Coverage: Not all metrics and indicators of strong ROI have to be digital. Good press coverage for big hero pieces of content is an important asset to track as, depending on readership levels, they could provide a huge boost to your campaign.


Goal Tracking

  • Click Through Rate: CTR is an extremely important metric to monitor if your video has a call to action that involves clicking through to a specific web page or social media page. This is probably the most telling indicator as to the efficacy of your video but it’s worth bearing in mind that platforms like YouTube will always deliver a lower CTR than a video that’s being viewed on your website.
  • New Leads / Sales: This is the golden metric as it will give you the clearest and most unambiguous indication of ROI. Whilst it’s not rocket science calculating how many new leads or sales you are getting after a video campaign has begun (based on what the monthly average was before) linking uplift to individual videos is far from straightforward and requires separate analytics software and the establishment of a proper attribution model.
  • A/B testing (2): Whilst A/B or split testing isn’t a metric in itself, I’ve included it here as it’s such a powerful goal tracking technique. A/B testing is hard to do on platforms like YouTube, but if you’re using videos on landing pages or in your email marketing, then it’s a very reliable means of comparing the effectiveness of one video to another or perhaps to using no video at all. Simply by tracking CTR or conversion rate on each page over time, you should get a clear indication of what works best.

Learning about your ROI for Video Marketing

Tweaking your Campaign to Boost Video ROI

It should be mentioned here that all video metrics are measures of effectiveness over time and are subject to the ever shifting whims of audiences, as well as seasonal and changing market conditions. For this reason, it’s important that video metrics need to be monitored from year to year as well as month to month. What works well this summer might not work well next winter (or next summer for that matter).

Like all data, metrics associated with your videos give you important insights into your content, your audience as well as the platforms and channels you are using. You should be asking questions of your videos constantly and using metrics to try and answer them. These could include:

  • Are your videos reaching your core demographics?
  • Are these core demographics engaging with your videos in the way you hoped?
  • Are people switching off from your videos before they’ve ended?
  • Are your video CTAs cutting through and having the desired effect?
  • What platforms are working best for what videos?


Securing a solid ROI with video isn’t a given. The relative success or failure of your ongoing video campaign will be predicated, not on the quality a single video, but on the consistency of your content in the long run. This means having a properly developed activation strategy in place to give your films the exposure they require to achieve your stated goals.