Video Analytics: Views are dead, use these 3 metrics instead

The way we approach video ana­lyt­ics needs to change. Views are by far the most com­mon­ly used met­ric, but do they gen­uine­ly increase brand aware­ness? What alter­na­tive met­rics are there for video mar­keters?

Greg Jarboe By Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR. Join the discussion » 0 comments

The way things were…

I start­ed upload­ing videos to YouTube a decade ago. Back in August 2006, we only had a cou­ple of met­rics for mea­sur­ing our suc­cess. One was views, which count­ed the num­ber of times that our video was watched.

The oth­er was rat­ings, which showed the num­ber of stars that a small per­cent­age of view­ers had giv­en our video. Five stars meant they loved it; one star meant they loathed it.

In Sep­tem­ber 2009, YouTube replaced the five-star rat­ing sys­tem. Why? Well, as the chart below illus­trates, the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of videos on YouTube had a stel­lar five-star rat­ing, while only a few view­ers were moved to rate videos when they did­n’t like them.


In oth­er words, peo­ple either liked the video they’d just watched or they couldn’t be both­ered to rate it. That made the five-star rat­ing sys­tem pret­ty use­less. And short­ly after that, YouTube replaced it with the thumbs up, thumbs down rat­ings that Face­book had made pop­u­lar.

And the way things are now….

Today, it’s time to replace the view met­ric.

Why? Because it has also become pret­ty use­less. In fact, there are the three key rea­sons why video ana­lyt­ics needs to fun­da­men­tal­ly change… again.

1. A “view” is not a view.

We’re now liv­ing in a mul­ti-plat­form video world where a “view”, is not a view. YouTube says you pay for a “view” when a view­er watch­es 30 sec­onds of your video – or the dura­tion if it’s short­er than 30 sec­onds – or engages with your video, whichev­er comes first.

On the oth­er hand, Face­book says you pay for a “view” when a video is dis­played in a user’s news feed for 3 sec­onds or more, even if the per­son doesn’t actu­al­ly click on the video to watch with the sound turned on.

So, with­out a stan­dard­ized def­i­n­i­tion of “view,” com­par­ing the num­ber views that your YouTube videos have with the num­ber of views that your Face­book videos have is like com­par­ing oranges and kumquats.

2. A view has no quantifiable value.

It’s time to admit that no one real­ly knows what a view is actu­al­ly worth. How many views do you need to increase brand aware­ness? How many views does a video have to get to have a direct impact on con­sumer per­cep­tions and behav­iors?

So, if a view isn’t a met­ric that mat­ters, then why would any video mar­keter want to con­tin­ue using it as a key per­for­mance indi­ca­tor (KPI)? That’s not a KPI that will earn you a pro­mo­tion or cost-jus­ti­fy a big­ger bud­get.

3. As things stand, it’s impossible to budget based on view.

Third, if no one knows what a view is actu­al­ly worth, then what is a good aver­age cost-per-view (CPV)? Well, it’s prob­a­bly going to be as low as pos­si­ble, which isn’t one of the health­i­est trends in the dig­i­tal video mar­ket­ing busi­ness.

This is bad for the plat­forms like YouTube and Face­book, which are sell­ing video adver­tis­ing. It’s espe­cial­ly bad for the YouTube con­tent cre­ators who are try­ing to mon­e­tize their videos with CPV adver­tis­ing. And low-cost CPVs are not even par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful replace­ment met­rics for the ad agen­cies that are still using gross rat­ing points (GRPs) to mea­sure their TV cam­paigns – espe­cial­ly with more and more of their clients are ask­ing unan­swer­able ques­tions like, “How many GRPs do I need to sell a car?”

So, what are the alter­na­tives? For­tu­nate­ly, there are now some good con­tenders to replace views as a met­ric.

Three alternative metrics to measure video marketing success

1. Watch time

First, video mar­keters should replace “views” with “watch time.” Why?

Well, about a year ago, the Google Agency Blog pub­lished some research which found that there is a con­sis­tent rela­tion­ship between how long a video ad is view­able and increas­es in brand aware­ness and con­sid­er­a­tion. The longer a user views your ad, the high­er the lift in these two impor­tant brand met­rics.


Watch time is also a met­ric that mat­ters for the two lead­ing video plat­forms.

In Octo­ber 2012, YouTube added “esti­mat­ed min­utes watched” to the “views” report in YouTube Ana­lyt­ics. A day lat­er, the video shar­ing plat­form start­ed adjust­ing the algo­rithm for the YouTube search results, ben­e­fit­ting engag­ing videos that kept view­ers watch­ing.

In June 2014, Face­book announced that it was adding how long some­one watched a video to its rank­ing fac­tors, which had pre­vi­ous­ly includ­ed likes, com­ments, and shares. And in Feb­ru­ary 2016, Face­book added new met­rics to its reports that let adver­tis­ers see the per­cent­age of peo­ple who have viewed their videos with sound in Page Insights and Ad Insights, too.

2. ‘Brand Lift’

Sec­ond, video mar­keters should replace their assump­tions about the puta­tive val­ue of video “views” with actu­al mea­sures of “brand lift” or the rapid results of “brand polling.” How?

In Feb­ru­ary 2013, Google intro­duced its Brand Lift solu­tion. It ini­tial­ly mea­sured mea­sure the actu­al impact of a YouTube ad cam­paign on brand aware­ness, ad recall and brand inter­est. Today, it also mea­sures the impact of YouTube ads on con­sid­er­a­tion, favor­a­bil­i­ty, and pur­chase intent.

How does Google’s Brand Lift work?

Google’s Brand Lift solu­tion mea­sures the above in two dif­fer­ent ways:

To mea­sure brand aware­ness, ad recall, con­sid­er­a­tion, favor­a­bil­i­ty, and pur­chase intent, Google iso­lates a ran­dom­ized con­trol group that is not shown your YouTube ad, and an exposed group that does see your ad. About a day after see­ing (or not see­ing) your ad, Google Con­sumer Sur­veys deliv­ers a sur­vey to both groups. Since the only effec­tive dif­fer­ence between the two groups is whether they saw your ad, Google can accu­rate­ly deter­mine the lift attrib­uted to your cam­paign.

Google’s Brand Lift solu­tion also mea­sures the impact your YouTube ad cam­paign has on cre­at­ing inter­est in your brand by using organ­ic search­es on both, the world’s largest search engine, and, the world’s sec­ond largest search engine. Sim­i­lar to sur­veys, Google ran­dom­ly picks a group that saw your ad and a con­trol group that did­n’t see your ad. Google then com­pares the organ­ic search behav­ior of both groups, look­ing at how often they search for key­words relat­ed to your brand or cam­paign. The dif­fer­ence in search­es can be attrib­uted to your cam­paign.

After ana­lyz­ing around 50 cam­paigns from For­tune 100 brands and cat­e­go­ry lead­ers run­ning on Google Pre­ferred, which includes some of YouTube’s most pop­u­lar chan­nels, Google found that:

  • 94% of the cam­paigns drove a sig­nif­i­cant lift – an aver­age of 80% – in ad recall.
  • The analy­sis also found that 65% of Google Pre­ferred ads saw an increase in brand aware­ness, with an aver­age lift of 17%. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly impres­sive con­sid­er­ing that the brands in the study were already well-known.

Here’s a video that explains how Google’s Brand Lift solu­tion works. It also men­tions how Mon­delēz Inter­na­tion­al used Brand Lift to mea­sure the mar­ket­ing effec­tive­ness of its Tri­dent Unlim­it­ed launch in Brazil, and Nis­san Cana­da used Brand Lift to mea­sure the effec­tive­ness of True­View ads for its Micra mod­el.

How does Facebook’s Brand Polling work?

Face­book and Insta­gram also offer brand polling solu­tions that enable adver­tis­ers to mea­sure brand aware­ness and ad recall. Just like Google, Face­book ran­dom­ly puts part of your tar­get audi­ence into a con­trol group that isn’t able to see your ads. The poll is then served to the con­trol group and a test group with iden­ti­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics. The lift between the con­trol and test groups accu­rate­ly shows the impact of Face­book and Insta­gram adver­tis­ing.


3. Cost-per-acquisition (CPA)

Third­ly, adver­tis­ers should move beyond opti­miz­ing their video cam­paigns to get the low­est CPV and start using cost-per-acqui­si­tion (CPA) bid­ding for video ads instead.

For a YouTube ad cam­paign, you can use a CPA bid strat­e­gy to tell AdWords the amount you’re will­ing to pay for a con­ver­sion. AdWords will then auto­mat­i­cal­ly sets your bids to give you as many con­ver­sions as pos­si­ble at your tar­get­ed cost-per-acqui­si­tion.

This strat­e­gy can help you reach cus­tomers who are like­ly to take an action, such as mak­ing a pur­chase (for an ecom­merce site), com­plet­ing a game lev­el (for a mobile gam­ing app), or sub­mit­ting a con­tact infor­ma­tion form (for a mar­ket­ing or lead gen­er­a­tion site).

Tar­get­ed CPA bid­ding focus­es on max­i­miz­ing con­ver­sions for your video ads, rather than views, as in CPV bid­ding. You still pay per view, but AdWords auto­mat­i­cal­ly sets your bids to help you get more con­ver­sions.

Case Study: Gillette BODY

For exam­ple, Gillette tar­get­ed a rapid­ly expand­ing audi­ence of body-groom­ing men to cre­ate buzz around its lat­est prod­uct, Gillette BODY. With a cam­paign anchored by a YouTube ad enti­tled “100 Years of Hair” the brand got more than 14 mil­lion views (if you still want to count those!).

The stats were far more impor­tant:

  • 84% of view­ers watched at least 85% of the ad.
  • Gillette search­es grew by 211% and clicks grew by 111% (biggest increase ever for the brand)
  • And the cam­paign deliv­ered more than 500,000 clicks-to-buy Gillette BODY, sur­pass­ing sales expec­ta­tions by up to four times across sev­en mar­kets.

Face­book also helps adver­tis­ers deter­mine exact­ly how their video ads impact their bot­tom line by offer­ing con­ver­sion lift mea­sure­ment capa­bil­i­ties. Build­ing on exist­ing Face­book mea­sure­ment offer­ings, con­ver­sion lift allows adver­tis­ers to accu­rate­ly deter­mine the addi­tion­al busi­ness dri­ven by Face­book ads and make future mar­ket­ing deci­sions based on this infor­ma­tion.

Case Study: Open Colleges, Australia


For exam­ple, Open Col­leges, Australia’s lead­ing online learn­ing provider, used a con­ver­sion lift study to mea­sure the full impact of its Face­book cam­paigns. Results from the study revealed:

  • a 95% lift in con­ver­sion rate for web­site inquiries
  • a 12% lift in offline enroll­ments.
  • cost per acqui­si­tion was also 23% low­er than what Open Col­leges’ last click mod­el had indi­cat­ed.

Summary: What does this mean for video analytics?

In short, the video ana­lyt­ics that you’ve been using for the past decade need to fun­da­men­tal­ly change if you want to mea­sure what mat­ters today. Imag­ine being able to go beyond tra­di­tion­al met­rics like views to mea­sure your video ad campaign’s impact on brand aware­ness and con­sid­er­a­tion.

Imag­ine being able to answer tough ques­tions from skep­ti­cal exec­u­tives who want to know:

  • Do peo­ple truth­ful­ly recall watch­ing our video ad?
  • Are our tar­get con­sumers real­ly more aware of our brand after view­ing our video ad?
  • Did our video ad actu­al­ly move peo­ple to con­sid­er our brand or prod­uct?
  • Are con­sumers even more favor­ably aligned with our brand’s mes­sage or iden­ti­ty after view­ing our ad?
  • Are con­sumers tru­ly intend­ing to pur­chase our prod­uct after see­ing our ad?
  • Are peo­ple gen­uine­ly more inter­est­ed in our brand or prod­uct?
  • Did our ad hon­est­ly increase organ­ic search activ­i­ty for our brand or prod­uct?

And final­ly, just imag­ine the impact on your career as well as your company’s suc­cess if you begin to focus your video ad cam­paigns on the high­est val­ue con­ver­sions with the low­est pur­chase amount.

That’s a pow­er­ful rea­son to unlearn what you have learned back in 2006. And, that’s why video ana­lyt­ics needs to fun­da­men­tal­ly change today, not 10 years from now.

What are your thoughts on how we should be mea­sur­ing video mar­ket­ing suc­cess?

Greg Jarboe

Written by Greg Jarboe

President, SEO-PR

Greg Jarboe is President and co-founder of SEO-PR, an award-winning content marketing agency that was founded in 2003. He’s the author of YouTube and Video Marketing and also a contributor to The Art of SEO, Strategic Digital Marketing, Complete B2B Online Marketing, and Enchantment. He’s profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes, a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and writes for Tubular Insights and The SEM Post. He’s an executive education instructor at the Rutgers Business School and the Video and Content Marketing faculty chair at Simplilearn.

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