Video metrics for everyone!

YouTube‘s become a verb and a household name, but I’ll always see it as an organization that’s brought metrics into the lives of the common people (those who have broadband Internet, anyway).  The “Most Popular” and “Featured Videos” are seen worldwide, Most Popular-YouTube sometimes garnering millions of views.  “Hey, did you see….” is usually accompanied by something like “…and it has x million views on YouTube!”

Number of views is great for little else other than bragging rights.  It’s one of the  “famous” metrics (web analytics guru Avinash Kaushik‘s term) that “are staring you in the face when you crack open any analytics tool” but “barely contain any insight.”

Yep, for anyone in the content business, number of views is right up there with hall of famers number of page views and monthly unique visitors.

YouTube has pushed all of its account holders  – no matter how amateur – to use meaningful metrics. In March 2008 it launched Insight, its “video analytics tool for all users,”Insight-YouTube along with some almost-preachy instructions on how to use metrics to get more people to watch your videos and, of course, come more often to YouTube.

The Insight tool allows you to track “community engagements” (there’s that word again) in terms of ratings, comments, and favorites.   YouTube doesn’t want you to settle for people just watching your video.  People have to show, in a measurable way, that they not only watched it but also reacted to it.

At the very least people should give a star rating (one is bad, five is good).  Rating is easy, quick and anonymous.  Tagging a video as a favorite is the next rung.  And if they’re really engaged, they’ll leave comments.  RatingsYouTube

But, as anyone who’s ever spent any time at all on YouTube knows, many comments are spam, obscene and irrelevant – just noise.  But the value of social media metrics is in looking beyond what James Kobelius in Information Management points out is an “often low and laughable” signal-to-noise ratio.

Kobelius notes that “if you crawl, correlate, categorize, mine, and explore it with the
right tools….[this unstructured information] can yield unexpected insights….The intelligence value of any individual tweet [or comment] in isolation is
negligible….Intelligence emerges from the aggregate.”

If you can stomach a few obscenities, look at this thought in Encyclopaedia Dramatica about YouTube view fraud and how the ratio of VPC, or views per comment, “is the most accurate way to determine if anyone” cares.  “A high VPC usually means view fraud has been committed.”

The example in ED shows that a video with 136,097 views and 3,529 comments has a VPC of 38.7, a low number that indicates this is a video “that people actually find funny.”  The video with 296,413 views, 541 comments and thus a VPC of 547.9 is probably something nobody really cares about.

I calculated some VPCs from this week’s “Most Popular” Haiti video-YouTubevideos and came up with some numbers that I don’t know what to do with yet.  To see if VPC can be used as a key performance indicator, I’ll need to calculate VPCs and crawl through the cacophony of a variety of news videos.  VPC may never be  “famous,” but it might be insightful.

A world record – so what?

I guess I'm proud to say that I contributed one of the reported 45-million-plus views to the Evian Roller Babies video ad, which is touted by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the most viewed online advertisement in history."  

Picture 1 I can't find any verification from Guinness itself on the web.  OK, I didn't look that hard, and I didn't contact Guinness.  I didn't think it was worth much effort because this record – like so many other Guinness records -  is one of those "so what" numbers – mildly amusing, sort of astounding, and utterly useless.

Mashable's Ben Parr, saying that "millions" remembered and "actively discussed" this "critically acclaimed" ad,  thinks that "any brand will take those numbers."

If I were Evian, the only numbers I would take are those in dollars, euros, yen, pounds and pesos and the like.  I agree with David Berkowitz in Social Media Insider:  "I have yet to see any coverage of the record
that mentions Evian's market share or any other success metric from the
brand's perspective. Maybe a needle moved, maybe nothing happened, but
it's hardly a clear-cut case that a viral ad means it's successful."

It's a highly watchable, entertaining video, but it haPicture 3rdly embeds "Evian" in my brain or makes me want to buy it.  What do roller-skating babies have to do with mineral water?  The babies don't even drink Evian in the video – they just skate around the bottles.  I guess the Evian's tag at the end, "Live Young," ties it all together.

 And of course there are quibbles how video ads are counted, and how the 45-million figure came about.  Apparently it was a combination of YouTube, Nielsen, Ad Age and Visual Measures.  Because the video was embedded in many places, you can't just look at the number of views on YouTube, which right now is showing about 11 million views. 

Whatever.  It really doesn't matter.

Pop-up videos make government engaging

Today I watched over seven minutes – from beginning to end – of The Texas Tribune’s Nov. 9 news video coverage of Kay Bailey Hutchison‘s gubernatorial campaign stump speech.

The video, one of The Tribune’s “Stump Interrupted” series, uses pop-up bubbles and illustrations to add context and value to a normally boring but important story.  The pop-ups are entertaining without being silly.

Picture 1

 

When KBH is saying, “Our taxes have gone up too much in the last ten years,” the pop-up points out that “But…since 2003, Texas still had the 14th lowest per capita tax increase in the country.”

 

KBH: “I think that we are seeing too much power in one person, the power of appointment.”

Pop-ups:  A large hand illustrating someone being appointed glides in from the left, followed by the fact that “Governor [Rick] Perry has made about 5,530 appointments since first taking office.”

On the site, people can also see the sources The Tribune used for the pop-ups.

Picture 2

 

The metrics angle:  Counting how many times a video was viewed doesn’t give any info on whether the viewer was engaged.  The more relevant measure is how much of the video was viewed, and whether the video was viewed from beginning to end.

I would also look at video metrics by topic, and set goals accordingly.  I would imagine (no, really?) that the number of complete views of a Dallas Cowboys video is usually much higher than that of anything having to do with politics, even in Texas.

The Texas Tribune got California-born-and-bred me to watch a KBH video from beginning to end.  I’m now more interested in both Texas politics and in how The Tribune covers it. Imagine how engaged a Texas resident who has a stake in this would be.

Picture 5 Actually, The Tribune doesn’t have to completely guess at this.  In
addition to commenting and e-mailing the story, people can rate a story
as a “must read.”

 

I’m really intrigued about what The Tribune will do next.  It’s a nonprofit news org that, according to WebNewser, didn’t cover the Fort Hood shootings because it’s “dedicated to covering ‘the politics and policy of Texas state government.'”

I love this focus on identifying a niche audience and topic, and sticking to serving the needs of that audience.  WebNewser reported that editor Matt Stiles said that the Fort Hood story just “wasn’t our story.  Should we have jut been one more news organization rushing to Fort Hood?  I don’t think so.”

The Tribune’s a great example of a truly audience-focused news organization with unique and compelling content that provides value.  Despite being staffed by “newspaper refugees,” it’s refreshingly not content-focused.  It doesn’t build the content first and then hope the audience will come.

 

Short-form videos need short ads; video subscriptions

As you add more short-form videos to your site, watch the length of the ads in proportion to the length of the videos.

At the Online News Association conference last week, many presenters stressed the importance of posting more short videos (30-120 seconds) more often rather than waiting days or weeks to craft a traditional long-form TV story package.   Chet Rhodes, the deputy multimedia editor for breaking news at washingtonpost.com, said that the Post has problems supplying enough video inventory to its advertisers.

Many studies, including this new report from eMarketer, show that “online video viewership has never been higher.”   However, the study points out that audiences’ acceptance of video advertising is dependent on the “growth of professional content” and targeted, less intrusive ads.

Has the growth in your video traffic – as measured by multiple metrics including the number of viewers and how much of the video was viewed – kept up with your audiences’ hunger for more live and breaking news videos?

Continue reading “Short-form videos need short ads; video subscriptions”

Reminder: Use ratios

The NielsenWire headline screams, "Total Online Video Streams up 41% from Last Year."  So video viewership has gone up significantly, right?  No, not as much as 41 percent would suggest. 

Streams per viewer in August 2009 were up about 20 percent over August 2008.  Now, 20 percent is still a lot, but it's not 41, especially because the total number of unique viewers "only" went up 18 percent.

So – there are more people watching videos, and each person is watching more videos (instead of working, sleeping, etc.).   

These metrics are especially relevant if you've increased your commitment to video over the past year.  Has your investment paid off as much as it should have?  Are more people watching your videos?  Is each visitor, on average, viewing more of your videos? 

I'd also toss in metrics – like the percent of viewers who started watching videos but didn't finish them – that indicate whether your content is working.

There are technical and vendor reasons to know the total number of video streams, but this metric is not very useful for news decisions.

Adobe + Omniture = new rich media measurement standards

The news about Adobe buying Omniture mystified me until I read this speculation by Rob Rose in iMedia Connection

Adobe's the company behind Photoshop, PDFs and other software standards that have become generic trademarks like Kleenex.  Omniture's the leading web analytics vendor for news organizations.

"Imagine Adobe/Flash/Omniture becoming the default rating system for
online video.  Basically they could become the Nielsen or ComScore of
YouTube Videos.  Or, imagine the new company being able to provide
measurement on whether your PDF's are being read – and to what page
they were read.   Or imagine, them being able to tell you at what point
people fell out of your online video demonstration.    Or, finally,
imagine them being able to tell you what parts of your hybrid consumer
application are the most popular, the least frequented – or a hundred
other things that I can imagine."

In other words, new standards for measuring rich media are likely to come.