How do you calculate video completion rate?

6 min read·Dec 19, 2022

You don’t manage until you measure, right? These days, backend analytics are almost more important than ad production value or fancy web design, and you will need to rely on them heavily to measure the effectiveness of your video advertising campaigns. From likes and shares, to number of views and click-through rates, this information helps you determine what works and what doesn’t. Another metric well worth including in your analyses is video completion rate. In this article, we will show you how and why to calculate your video ad completion rate.

What is video completion?

Not everyone who watches a video does so from start to finish without skipping a single part. Video completion rate (also known as view-through rate or VTR) reflects the percentage of viewers who do so and can be used to determine their level of engagement.

Measuring your video ad completion rate will help you understand how well your digital content is performing on a given channel.

How do you calculate video completion rate?

The basic formula to calculate video completion rate is:

VCR = (View-Throughs x 100) ÷ Impressions

This means you need to collect relevant analytical data.

The first figure you will need is view-throughs, which corresponds to the number of “completed” views, or how many times users watched the content from beginning to end, without skipping any parts.

The second piece of data is the number of impressions, which is equal to the number of times people started playing the video. Typically, this information can be found on the dashboard of your analytics program.

Now let’s imagine you want to promote a new product that you are about to launch and you decide to release a video about it on social media, on CTV, and on your website. Your analytics may show that 6,000 people watched the video from beginning to end which, multiplied by 100, equals 600,000.

In this scenario, your analytics also reveal that 20,000 users began to watch the video at some point, but never finished, or skipped certain parts instead of viewing it in its entirety. According to our formula, you would then divide the previous result by this number, which equals 30, meaning that your video completion rate is 30%.

You could also work on a more granular level by calculating your video completion rate on every platform. This could indicate which channels your advertising content is best suited for.

Why do advertisers measure video completion rate?

Measuring video completion rate doesn’t just provide an indicator to tell you if you are on the right track with your digital content. It is also used by social media platforms to assess which brands are consistently posting content that their users actually want to consume, so that the algorithms can prioritize them.

Video ad completion rates also allow you to measure performance and ROI for your video marketing campaigns, so you can set a certain VCR as a goal and analyze where your content is underperforming.

Having a clear idea of how much of your content people watch will help you understand what they enjoy watching from you and what they don’t, giving you an opportunity to improve your videos over time.

What is a good completion rate for video ad?

70-80% is generally accepted as a good video ad completion rate. Of course, the higher the better, but while a VCR that drops too low is a clear indication that your video is not hitting its mark, it is simply impossible to appeal to every single user.

How to increase your video completion rate?

There are several strategies you can apply to optimize your video completion rate.

  • The first and most obvious one consists in shortening the length of your content to 20 seconds or less. If you feel like you have too much to say, try breaking it down into several key points, each of which will become a single, bite-sized video.
  • You should also strive to make your digital content as relevant and engaging as possible. To this end, you need to segment and target your audience to create advertising videos that apply to your ideal consumer. Knowing their age, occupation, lifestyle, and more will help you fine-tune your message to match their needs and wants. Use this information to make your videos more engaging and worth sharing.
  • Understanding the various platforms at your disposal and how to leverage their characteristics to improve your content’s viewability will boost your video completion rate significantly. For instance, some social media platforms naturally lend themselves to more interactive content than others, making your calls to action more effective.
  • Creating a channel can also improve your VCR as it is more likely to attract users who are genuinely interested in your content. Video ad placements, the size of video players, as well as buffering time strongly impact viewability, which is another factor to keep in mind if you want to see your video completion rate soar.
  • Finally, don’t neglect the subtle elements that could encourage users to click or to stop scrolling to view your content in the first place. From thumbnails to closed captioning to the description caption, every detail should be designed not only to capture the users’ attention, but also to convey what the video contains faithfully. Remember that if the viewers find what they were hoping for, they are less likely to want to click away.

Other important metrics to analyze your video ads performances

While analyzing your video completion rate is essential if you want to assess the performance of your video content, it is not the only element to take under consideration.

Play rate is another relevant metric, which indicates how many people intend to watch your advertising video, whether or not they stick around until the very end. This number of impressions is used to calculate your video completion rate.

Engagement, click-through rate, social shares, and conversion rate should also be measured and compared to how many people viewed your digital content. It is important because even if your video boasts an excellent VCR, if your CTAs prove ineffective or if people enjoy watching but don’t end up reacting to what they see in a positive way, then this will translate into an unsatisfactory ROI.

Which channels have the highest VTRs?

While digital video advertising has been the belle of the programmatic advertising ball for years, nothing can beat the view-through-rates of deeply engaged television audiences. Now, with Connected Television, you can marry the two. CTV audiences report a 97% view-through-rate.

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