The limited value of ad views

Think with Google published the results of a very interesting study measuring the effectiveness of different video versions of an ad for a new product. The study uses three alternative approaches – with very different results.


The product

The ad was for a new line of make up from L’Oreal Paris.


The ad

The substance of the ad is the same – it demonstrates the product being used to produce a particular look. The difference between the three versions is the style of the advert.


One of the versions, ‘The Glam’, was produced in the traditional style of a TV advert. It has high production value, and shows a celebrity make-up artist applying the product to a model.

Loreal 1

Another version, ‘The Show’, was produced in the style of a blogger tutorial. It showed the blogger demonstrating the product on herself, and it, too, had high production value.

Loreal 2

The final version, ‘The Tell’, was in the style of a simple video produced by a regular user. It showed the customer applying the product straight to the camera.

Loreal 3

Measuring ad effectiveness

The study measured the effectiveness of the various versions of the ad using three different approaches:

  • View-through rates – i.e., the number of times each version has been watched until the end. It is a widely available metric, which measures exposure to the ad;
  • Ad recall – i.e., the extent to which viewers remember key aspects of the ad. It measures knowledge of the ad’s message;
  • Click through rate – i.e., number of times viewers clicked on a link taking them to the brand’s website. It measures action following exposure to the ad.


The results

Each version of the ad performed differently, depending on the metric used.
If we use view-through rate as a measure of effectiveness, The Glam performed the best and The Tell the worst. However, if we use click through rate, the results are exactly the opposite: The Tell does better than The Glam.


The result is more nuanced for ad recall: The Glam performs best with an older audience (ages 35-44), while The Tell is the most successful with the younger one (ages 18 to 24).


This is quite an interesting finding because numbers of views, like numbers of followers or likes, are widely available metrics. We see them used often to report on the success of campaigns – for instance, here and here. But what this example shows us is that they fail to measure the most important thing: consumer behaviour. Which is what makes them such a poor metric for a campaign’s effectiveness.

Loreal 7

You can read the study here. As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts.

4 thoughts on “The limited value of ad views

      1. Didn’t notice you lived in Portugal 🙂
        Trabalho numa agência de publicidade, então vejo os clientes analisando o sucesso pelos views (e esquecem que estão paganso por eles).
        Meu blog está parado. É um interesse pessoal que gostaria de retomar futuramente… Vou usar seu comentário como incentivo.
        Você tem algum interesse em Marketing Social?


      2. I don’t – I am Portuguese, but I live in the UK 😉

        Sim, faço investigação nesta ‘area – sobretudo na relação com customer insight & engagement.


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