At this point, all marketers know that “viral videos” do not create a sustainable marketing campaign. In fact, the last time the word “viral video” was uttered in a brainstorm session it might have been 2009. Now, if we’ve all moved past this ineffective technique, why are we still in a view-obsessed metric mindset?
Marketers need to stop seeing their view count as the bellwether to video marketing success. In fact, it’s come out that views are the low hanging fruit video platforms use to get advertisers interested in their offerings.
Now, if views don’t count towards your video’s letter grade, then what does? Here are 4 different ways to measure your video’s success… without even glancing at your view count.
What’s Your Video’s Goal
It’s very likely that you created a video with a more specific target than just “get a lot of views.” In reality, views are not a primary key performance indicator for any type of goal except “get people to watch the first few seconds of my video at least one time.” In both Facebook and Youtube, views by the same user are counted as separate views.
To get your mind off views, let’s think through a scenario. Say a Nonprofit created a video that had the goal of “get more people to learn about our cause.” Views sound like the right way to measure such a fuzzy concept as “learning,” but think about this: if that Nonprofit’s video is viewed 10 times by one of their current passionate supporters, then the view count it isn’t reflecting a raise in new knowledge or awareness.
Instead, the video should have a very tangible call-to-action ingrained in its message. Maybe, in the case of our hypothetical nonprofit, the call-to-action is to visit its website to learn more. Using UTM URLs in the video’s description or in a Youtube pop-up, this Nonprofit can track the visitors that come through the website through its video and see how these visitors behave in Google Analytics. Here’s a great tool by Google to create UTM URLs for your campaigns.
Here’s a few questions to answer: are they visiting key webpages with information about the cause? Are they signing up to be volunteers? How long do they spend on the site? Those are the cold facts that can’t be fluffed up like views can.
Video Watch Time Reports
A video view can mean something different across all platforms. For example, on Facebook, a view counts as the first three seconds. It will be difficult to really make an impact on a viewer that’s just checking out the very beginning of your video. But, you can judge how captivating your content is by looking at two other metrics: average view duration, and audience retention, which can be measured on both Facebook and Youtube.
Average View Duration
Average View Duration shows you exactly what it sounds like it shows you: out of all of your views, what was the average time someone watched?
Now that Facebook has (rightfully) amended the way they measure Average View Duration (read more on that here), this metric is really important to understand how interesting your video truly is to your audience. So for instance, if your average view duration reports that most people abandon your video by second six, but you don’t get into the meat of your message until second 16, you can’t call your video a success even if it has a high view count.
Here’s a place to start with your benchmarking for Average View Duration: according to Locowise, the average view on Facebook lasts about 18 seconds. But, once you have a few videos under your belt, you can benchmark your average view duration across your like content.
Something else to consider about online video is that views are not linear. When your viewers watch a video, you can rewind it, pause it, and even skip over the parts they are uninterested in. That means a part of your video can be watched by 120% of your viewers (meaning it was rewatched by some of your viewers), while a different part of your video could be watched by only 2% of your viewers.
You can track all these stats with an audience retention report. This will tell you what parts of your video are truly important to those who are watching it. Or, this metric can tell you how easy your content is to consume.
For example, maybe you create a how-to video that goes over several steps of a DIY project, and you notice a spike in rewatches on the 3rd step, and then a steep loss in audience at the beginning of the fourth step. That pattern could tell you that the explanation of your third step isn’t very clear, and you might have to correct your script on your next video.
With autoplay on both Youtube and Facebook, a view is a passive metric. That means if you want to measure an audience that is truly interested in your video, it is best to consider the types of interactions that your viewers make that are more active. Here’s a quick list of what these interactions are for Facebook and Youtube.
- Reactions (A like, a sad face, angry face, haha, or heart)
- Click to Play/Listen to audio
- Add to Playlist
Now, all of these metrics have to be taken in context with your video. That means you have to decide what a like and a dislike mean. Think about this: a dislike or angry face may not be a negative reaction. Maybe your video is about how your organization helped out someone who was struggling. That dislike could be a reaction to all the hardships your video’s subject faced.
A good way to compare your engagement across videos is to express it as a percentage. Divide your number of engagements you find valuable by your number of views. You can call this your “engagement rate.” This will give you a good idea of what percentage of viewers were inspired to take an action after watching your video.
All in all, marketers need to change their mindset about video views. Video Marketing has the great potential to create a brand community and inspire your potential customers, but only if you are constantly adapting to what your audience wants. And you can’t do that by just looking at views.
- Someone can re-watch your video and throw off your metrics- Track Your Video’s Tangible Goal Instead
- Views are counted within the first few seconds of play on Facebook – Instead, Watch Time reports gauge your audience’s true interest in your video’s content
- Views are Passive Metrics- Engagement is an active metric
- Your video’s success depends on a lot more than views
Tod Plotkin – Contributor at AMA Los Angeles
Founder @ Green Buzz Agency
Emmy Award Winning Producer
Video Marketing Expert