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The Misleading Measurements of Media Platforms

There is a big difference between getting a message in front of someone’s face and getting the *right* message in front of someone’s face. This is the difference between being skipped over and re-engaging or gaining a new potential customer. How well your current content is being perceived? You might not be looking at the right metrics to answer that question. 

Many of the default metrics you see when you look up the results are great at telling you how your money was spent. Impressions, views, Cost Per Impression, Cost Per Click – these are the first metrics you see. These metrics show you how the platform charged you, and why they charged you a certain amount. Helpful from a financial standpoint, but doesn’t give you an understanding of viewer perception.   

It’s important to understand which metrics give us a financial breakdown, and which gives us a look into how engaging our content is. If you want to understand the ladder, you need to understand where to look!  

The Varied Versions of Video Views:  

 Let’s say you made a video ad to run on Facebook. Ad the end of the run, your video ad has been viewed 5,000 times. Yay! So 5,000 new people are interested in my content, right? Wrong.    5,000 people had the chance to watch your video as it popped up on your feed. That doesn’t tell us anything about how your viewers reacted to the video, or if they reacted at all.   But, not all video views are created equal. Each social platform has a different set of parameters that constitute a video view and the length of time needed for tracked views may surprise you. Some platforms are more… relaxed… than others. Many social platforms don’t even need the video in full view before it is counted as a view.   

This handy infographic by Buffer shows a visual on how tracking video views differs by platform.

Here is how main social media platforms track video views:  

Twitter: Half of the video frame needs to be visible for 3 seconds to count as a video view.

LinkedIn: Native video views are counted when they’ve been watched for at least 3 seconds in full view.  

Snapchat: A Snapchat video view is tracked the moment a video renders on a screen.  

Facebook: A Facebook video view is logged after a video has been watched for 3 seconds. On a desktop, the video needs to be fully visible to log. On mobile, the video needs to be 50% visible to start counting as a video view.  

Instagram: Video views are counted when they’ve been watched for at least 3 seconds in full view.  

IG stories: The video view is logged after the video has been in a 100% view upon opening.

Other Metrics that may be misleading – and what to track instead.   

Direct Message Open Rate  

For example, LinkedIn ads that run in direct messages may have a very high open rate, which looks great. But that doesn’t mean your ad was successful, because people are conditioned to open direct messages in their social media accounts. I for one cannot have one unopened message in my DMs regardless of what type of DM it is. So, I open all of my messages but hardly ever read any of the information. Should someone like me count as a success? If you’re measuring engagement, probably not.   Instead, pay attention to CTA Link Clicks   To check the success of this type of ad, you need to focus on the link clicks of the main Call-To-Action of the ad. That could be subscriptions, page views, lead gens… whatever. This means that a viewer opened your message, read what you have to say, and decided it was interesting/engaging enough to click through and learn more. Those are the numbers that will uncover engagement and interest in the message of the ad.  

Link Clicks  

Link clicks are a very common way to measure interest and engagement, and shouldn’t be overlooked. However, there are better ways to track the individuals that want to learn more and take further action after clicking a link. Measuring ad engagement solely based on link clicks can inflate the success rate because link clicks count bounces and accidental clicks as a completed result.    Instead, pay attention to Pageviews   Pageviews may sound like the same thing as link clicks, but don’t be fooled. They are measuring the same action committed by the viewer (clicking a link), but page views are a more accurate measurement of interest in the ad message. Tracking page views cuts out any accidental clicks or bounces by only counting viewers that stick around long enough for the landing page to load. People who wait for the landing page, have an active interest in the landing page.   


Impressions are a good measure of the reach and frequency of your ad but they don’t give a good perspective on how interested your audience is in the content. Impressions track and count individuals who skipped past your message in less than a second. Studies show that less than a second can count for *something* in the eyes of your viewers, but not much. For example, they may be able to remember what brands they saw but it’s not enough time to speak to the sentiment or topic of the ad.    Instead, pay attention to Completion Rate   If you are trying to understand how many of your viewers resonated with and spent the time to watch your content, look at the completion rate of stories and videos. This metric is especially helpful with Snapchat and Instagram Stories – it is the difference between seeing the story and watching the story. Impressions counts people who skip over the ad immediately, while the completion rate only counts active viewers who watched the ad without skipping.   Ready to understand the engagement behind your content? Reach out to our team with any questions you have!   

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