The major social networks don’t agree on how to count video views; here’s a rundown of the sometimes slippery metric.

As the market for video ads has grown, many social platforms have expanded bidding options and reporting metrics for video ads. This can all make analyzing and comparing results across platforms a challenge. We surveyed the major social video platforms to see what counts as a view. For Facebook and Instagram, viewing just 3 seconds of a video of any length is considered a view. For YouTube Trueview ads, it’s around 30 seconds. Others have adopted the MRC standard (see below) or a kind of variation on it. Bottom line, advertisers need to be aware how each of the platforms count and charge for video ad views because they aren’t apples to apples.

A video ad view methodology by platform

The Media Rating Council (MRC) and IAB define a video ad as viewable when at least 50 percent of the ad’s pixels are visible on a screen for at least two consecutive seconds.” Some platforms have adopted this standard, but many have not.

Here’s the rundown on how the major players count video views:

  • Google/YouTube: The skippable TrueView ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network count a video view when someone engaged with an ad or watches 30 seconds of a video ad, or the duration of the ad if it is shorter than 30 seconds.
  • Facebook and Instagram: Facebook and it’s family of apps count a video view for both in-stream and Stories ads at 3 seconds. However, advertisers can buy video ads on either a CPM basis or ThuruPlay basis. When buying on a CPM basis, an impression is counted when one pixel of the video ad comes into view. With ThruPlay, advertisers are charged when a video ad plays to 97 percent completion or up to 15 seconds, whichever comes sooner.
  • LinkedIn: For LinkedIn’s sponsored content, video views are counted when 50 percent of the ad is in-view for 1 second on desktop and 300 milliseconds (one-third of a second) on mobile.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest adopted the MRC standard of 50 percent of the ad in-view for 2 continuous seconds or more.
  • Reddit: Reddit defines a video view as 2 continuous seconds at 50 percent viewability, per the MRC standard. A full video view is counted after a video ad shows for 3 continuous seconds at 100 percent viewability. Advertisers can bid on a cost-per-view (CPV) or CPM basis.
  • Snapchat: Snap Ads’ view criteria is 2 seconds for a video view. The platform’s video ads run full-screen with the sound on.
  • Twitter: Twitter adopted the MRC standard and counts a video ad view when 50 percent of the ad is in view for 2 seconds or more, or when a user engages with a video ad by clicking to expand or un-muting it.

Other metrics to consider

Many platforms show additional engagement metrics and view counts. For example, Google offers quartile watch time metrics, along with an extensive list of video ad metrics that includes click performance, engagement performance, and reach and frequency.

  • Facebook reports 2 second, 3 second, 10 second and ThruPlays, regardless of which bidding option you choose. It also reports watch time metrics, showing showing how often 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent or 100 percent of a video ad was watched.
  • Reddit reports views at 25, 50, 75 95 and 100 percent of video length at any viewability as well as the number of times a video ad was watched for 3, 5, and 10 seconds in aggregate at any viewability.

In October 2018, YouTube began counting an ‘Engagement’ to a TrueView for action ad whenever a user clicks or watches 10 seconds or more when using maximize conversions or target CPA bidding — down from from 30 seconds. Those ads are still charged on a CPM basis, however, when using maximize conversion or target CPA bidding strategies.