The IAB’s recent report on digital video’s explosive growth was the veritable symphony to the chorus that we’ve all been hearing from the industry the past two or three years. All the facts are there. Digital video is white-hot and everyone — publishers, brands, agencies, and yes, consumers — want it. But how do we properly measure it? Ah, the $100,000 question.

While the IAB and others have endeavored for several years to create and issue guidelines, what will truly determine viable, workable metrics, may ultimately be the market itself. In other words, what brands and agencies deem logical measures, specifically for successful digital video campaigns.

The reason for this is, video is simply a different advertising animal altogether. Relying on impressions and clickthrough-rates (CTRs) for banner ads is bad enough; trying to apply it to video is even worse. Those clicks could very well be consumers trying to find a pause, close or mute button (the exception might be when digital video has interactive components, such as a ‘shoppable’ feature, and in those cases, clicks can actually be useful).

Trying to apply metrics normally associated with measuring linear television advertising, such as reach, frequency, and gross ratings points (GRPs), to digital video, equally falls short. Those measures specifically help buyers understand reach within an intended audience, but do not address aggregate consumption of a particular video ad.

In recent years, the video completion rate (VCR) has been heralded as a possible gold standard for digital video. VCR can be a valuable indicator and its sister metric, ‘time spent,’ is a useful supplemental measure of how much attention consumers are giving your ad. On top of that, creative effectiveness can be parsed by examining video ‘drop-off point’ which tells exactly you where the viewer lost interest in your ad.

However, those measures are simply not enough. Where one might find the Holy Grail of digital video metrics is with engagement. Video units with responsive features, sequential storyboards, animations, links to products, product galleries, web pages and social channels are beginning to actually measure engaged viewers. Unlike simple banner clicks that can often be accidental, engagement metrics are strong indicators that the viewer chose deeper involvement with your brand.

As we all look to capitalize on digital video’s meteoric growth, it’s critical to substantiate the medium with strong metrics such as engagement, VCR, and time spent and prove its value in driving business.