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  • Writer's pictureRussell Vilardi

All You Need to Know about View-Through Attribution



Eyeballs looking at the TV screen signifying view-through attribution tracking.


All You Need to Know about View-Through Attribution

How do you track the performance of your ads on streaming video services? You can’t track clicks because most viewers watch streaming video on their living room TVs, not their computers. The best way to track streaming video ad effectiveness is via view-through attribution. This approach connects later purchases to previous ad impressions – and is ideal for tracking the effectiveness of ads on OTT streaming video services.


Key Takeaways

  • View-through attribution, or VTA, connects conversions to previous ad impressions.

  • VTA works by establishing an attribution window of several hours or days, during which conversions are likely influenced by ad viewings.

  • Unlike click-through attribution, VTA does not directly link conversions to specific ads.

  • VTA is the only practical way to track the effectiveness of video advertising on OTT streaming video services.

What is View-Through Attribution?

View-through attribution (VTA) is a way to track conversions that result from viewed ads, even if that ad isn’t clicked. It’s useful for attributing conversions to ad impressions from streaming video ads.


VTA allows marketers to track conversions that don’t occur immediately after an ad is viewed. This method tracks user behavior for some period after an ad is shown and connects sales activity to the viewing of the ad. The assumption is that some consumers don’t make a purchase immediately after seeing an ad. But they may still be influenced by it and make their purchase several hours or days later.


If a consumer doesn’t immediately click on an ad, how do they convert to a sale? In most cases, they either enter the advertiser’s URL manually into a web browser or search for the advertiser through a search engine.


Marketers use VTA to track all types of online ads, from traditional banner and display ads to ads on OTT streaming video services. It’s particularly useful for video ads watched on connected TVs (CTVs) and streaming media devices, where it’s not possible for viewers to click an ad and advertisers to track click-through rate (CTR).



How view-through attribution works.


How Does VTA Work?

The key to view-through attribution is matching an online sale with a previous advertising event. This is done by assigning a predefined period of time called a lookback window or attribution window. Any sales or conversions made during this window are assumed to be influenced by the previously displayed ad.


Advertisers can set attribution windows for any length of time, although most choose a time frame between 1 hour and 24 hours. Any conversions happening after 24 hours are not easily attributable to a specific ad and could result from other factors. When setting attribution window length, consider buyer behavior and market dynamics for the product or service being advertised.


For example, attribution windows for products that require more research, such as financial products and services, might have a longer attribution window than products that are more likely to be impulse purchases, such as health and beauty aids. Products for older audiences also might have longer attribution windows, as those buyers are less likely to act quickly.


View-through attribution must also consider the number of impressions a viewer is likely to see. Conversions are typically attributed to the most recent ad impression, even though previous impressions might influence the buyer’s behavior.



View-through attribution process flow.


Pros and Cons of View-Through Attribution

The effectiveness of online advertising is traditionally measured via click-through attribution (CTA). CTA tracks direct action on the part of the consumer – they view an ad, then click on it. As such, it’s a highly accurate measure of consumer behavior. Unfortunately, CTA doesn’t track conversions that don’t happen immediately on ad viewing. That is where VTA shines.


Pros of VTA

There are several significant benefits to using VTA to track ad performance, including:

  • Tracking ad performance on non-clickable devices, such as TV screens

  • Tracking ad performance in streaming media

  • Monitoring channel performance

  • Assessing the performance of complete campaigns, not just individual ads

In general, VTA is ideal for markets with longer selling cycles. It’s also ideal for advertising on OTT streaming services where consumers can’t click on the ads.


Cons of VTA

While VTA has its advantages, it may not be suitable for all products, markets, and media. Here are some common drawbacks of view-through attribution:

  • Setting the wrong attribution window length might over-emphasize or under-emphasize the contribution of specific ads and channels.

  • View-through attributions do not track a direct path from ad impression to conversion – conversions during the attribution window can result from other unrelated factors.

  • Unlike CTA, which directly tracks user actions, VTA can be subject to advertising fraud.

Why View-Through Attribution is Ideal for Tracking Video Advertising


The market for OTT advertising is large and growing, with the U.S. market for OTT advertising expected to grow from $19 billion to $31 billion by 2027, according to the Global AVOD Forecasts 2022 report. Pathmatics reports that OTT advertising generates 121 billion ad impressions per quarter.


With so many advertisers flocking to advertising-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services, the ability to track ad performance is fast becoming a major issue. Video ads, when viewed on TVs and streaming media players, are not clickable, as they are on computers and smartphones. Relying on CTA alone ignores a significant chunk of consumers who are influenced by video advertising on services such as Pluto TV, Tubi, and Peacock.


This leaves VTA as the only way to track all the consumers who might see your advertising on streaming video services. It’s also more effective in tracking consumers who require a longer selling cycle or who aren’t prone to impulse purchases.


If a significant percentage of viewers watch on computers and mobile devices, you might want to use a combination of VTA and CTA to track your advertising. This way, you’ll be able to measure both direct purchases and those with a longer attribution window. But you can’t ignore view-only attribution – it’s the measurement method of choice for streaming video advertisers.


How to make video ads that grab attention.


Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Streaming Video Advertising with Penthera


Tracking ad performance is just one of several challenges AVOD advertisers face. Streaming advertising can be negatively impacted by difficulty in accurately targeting the proper audiences, ad delivery failure, and other technical issues. Fortunately, Penthera’s 2nd Look solution addresses many of these issues, helping to reliably deliver targeted advertising to OTT viewers. Using 2nd Look will make your streaming ads more effective – and more easily measurable via view-through attribution.


Contact Penthera today to learn more about view-through attribution and OTT advertising.


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