During the early days of YouTube, the only measure of success was “views.” But since then marketers have increasingly challenged the value of a “view” and are now focused on creating content and distribution strategies that drive deeper levels of engagement, such as sharing, data capture, or online purchases. This makes “measurement” a moving target. So, let’s take a quick look at where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re headed when it comes to identifying the right key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your YouTube video marketing strategy.
YouTube Analytics, circa 2007
Measurement took a big step forward on Mar. 26, 2008, when YouTube Insight was released. The free tool enabled anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the videos that they upload to their channel. For example, uploaders could see how often their videos were viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they were relative to all videos in that market over a given period of time. You could also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it took for a video to become popular, and what happened to video views as popularity peaked.
Meanwhile the market kept moving and marketers started demanding more robust metrics, but it didn’t appear that YouTube Insight was keeping pace. That’s why one of the chapters in the second edition of Greg Jarboe’s book, YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day, is entitled, “Trust but Verify YouTube Insight.” It was published on Nov. 1, 2011.
Less than a month later, YouTube Analytics replaced YouTube Insight. The announcement was made on Nov. 30, 2011.
YouTube Analytics offered a number of new features that YouTube Insight didn’t:
- A new overview that displayed key information quickly, while also enabling YouTubers to easily access more detailed information.
- More detailed statistics so that YouTubers could get a more precise understanding of their content and audiences.
- The ability to discover which videos were driving the most views and subscriptions.
- The ability to see how far viewers were watching through their video in a new audience retention report.
But the market has kept moving and many marketers are now demanding even more robust metrics. And some savvy marketers have started to realize that YouTube needs to do a lot more than beef up YouTube Analytics. It needs to replace its online video player to change the way video is presented and consumed.
In fact, the way viewers select and interface with our video content remains largely the same: all they can do is scan our title and description, glance at our thumbnail, check our video’s duration, and play, pause, fast-forward and rewind the linear content.
Savvy B2C marketers like ULTA Beauty, the largest beauty retailer for prestige, mass and salon products and salon services in the United States, and savvy B2B marketers like TheCUBE, the leading live interview show covering enterprise technology and innovation, realize that it’s about time for online video to stop working like VCR and start working in concert with other web media. When it does, the medium of video, and the web itself, will never be the same again.
Vinja enables them to:
- Tag video chapters: Easily mark, tag, and share links to the gems of content within any of their YouTube videos.
- Share customized experiences: Meet and interact with their audience through custom video players integrated into their website and workflows.
- Measure results: Gain and apply insights about their audience to hone their messaging and drive their business objectives.
Vinja Analytics, circa 2014
Together, Vinja and its early adopters are following Galileo’s advice: “Count what is countable, measure what is measurable. What is not measurable, make measurable.” This was controversial advice 400 years ago when the prevailing view of the cosmos was geocentric (the earth is the center of the universe), not heliocentric (the sun is the center of the solar system).
The measure of web marketing success has already evolved from network-centric (page views) to user-centric (session engagement). It’s about time for the measurement of web video marketing success to evolve likewise from video views to viewer engagement—such as, what parts of a video were viewed (and shared) with what frequency, by whom, and with what measurable business results.