Error drift during compressed domain watermarking can be reduced by embedding watermarking symbols in macroblocks that have relatively low influence on pixel values of other macroblocks during video decompression. This influence may be quantified using compression influence values (CIVs), which may be computed/assigned based on prediction dependency relationships amongst the various macroblocks in a sequence of frames. To wit, high CIVs are assigned to macroblocks that heavily influence the pixel values of other macroblocks during intra-frame/inter-frame prediction, while low CIVs are assigned to macroblocks that have little influence over the pixel values of other macroblocks. Macroblocks having the lowest CIVs may be selected for embedding compressed domain watermarking bits/symbols. Alternatively, macroblocks having high CIVs may be excluded from a pool of candidate macroblocks that are eligible for carrying embedded compressed domain watermarking bits/symbols.