ARIA Resort Weighs The Impact Of Viewability (And Creative) On Video Completion

CompletionsUpscale Las Vegas hotel Aria Resort & Casino wanted to draw a clearer correlation between viewability and video completions, two metrics sometimes at odds for advertisers.

And as mobile video became more substantive in its media mix, it also needed to crack the creative demands of smaller screen sizes.

When Aria set out two years to redefine itself as a luxury hotel, it started with direct-response TV, traditional cable and online pre-roll.

Outstream video eventually landed on its radar through a partnership with video analytics platform Genesis Media, which focused primarily on in-article formats.

Achieving a high viewability rate is idyllic to most advertisers and formats like outstream are designed to achieve that.

But they can be an Achilles’ heel for common video success metrics, like completions, because outstream video doesn’t render like standard pre-roll.

“The way [Genesis] viewed the format changed our minds and allowed us to make a larger investment,” said Derek Schoen, director of marketing for Aria Resort. “We had more optimism that we could find video efficiencies and scale back on [the] more cost-prohibitive things, like national TV or even pre-roll.” 

Genesis Media’s Page Attention Rank (PAR), which is embedded in a publisher’s CMS, scores content and ads for more than 400 attributes like active time spent, scroll rate, skips and abandons.

“We synthesize that into an index which shows us the value of the amount of attention that each page has,” said Mark Yackanich, CEO of Genesis Media. “That allows you to target higher-impact video experiences to pages that have more attention.”

And it’s helping Aria correlate viewability and completion. It recently used PAR to test a 30-second video ad with and without optimization.

While there was little difference in the average viewability rate, the completion rate for unoptimized video was 39% vs. 47% for optimized video.

Aria’s conclusion was that the contextual nature of a page is a key factor for engagement and completion.

A full-screen interstitial, for instance, wouldn’t make sense on a page with lower average session lengths or that has high rates of abandonment.

Aria also is banking on attention-based metrics to help it determine which creative works best on an end publisher, since user attention varies across desktop and mobile.

For instance, Genesis claims consumers average 42-45 seconds on desktop video content, compared to seven to 12 seconds on mobile.

“Google and Facebook understand that getting to five, six or seven seconds [on video] makes a lot more sense on smaller screens where there is some latency in the connection and where the engagement time, on average, is a lot less,” Yackanich added. “It’s very different.”

One of the main benefits of a smaller screen size is “less content noise,” which is impactful – when done correctly.

“One of the reasons you’re seeing the industry favor large formats right now [on OTT, for example] is you have more viewable space, so it’s easier to develop creative,” Schoen said.

But brands still have some trepidation moving dollars to mobile en masse beyond the mobile, in-feed ads in Facebook or Snapchat formats, which are more controlled environments.

“If you shoehorn something into a space, that has negative impact on the media, [whether mobile or desktop],” Schoen added. “If you see my logo and the video isn’t rendering correctly, how in the world is that a good first impression if I’m billing myself as a technologically innovative brand?”

Most of Aria’s video assets were theatrical 30 seconds geared for TV, but based on its learnings it’s now considering shorter videos with a single message or tagline for mobile consumption.

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