‘Views’ You Can Lose: Beefed Up Tools Alter Online Video Measurement Goals

Two of the hottest topics in PR today are social media conversations—à la Facebook and Twitter—and measurement. But let’s not forget the power of online video. There, too, measurement looms large.

While video platforms, and YouTube in particular, are enjoying record numbers of views—on YouTube, over 2 billion videos are viewed every day, and YouTube Mobile gets over 100 million views per day—for communicators, views are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measuring the success of online video.

Unfortunately, says Tony Obregon, VP of digital media at Cohn & Wolfe, many PR professionals are still focused on viewer metrics and generating big numbers from their videos, which often are meaningless. “We try to provide context for our clients,” says Obregon. “We can say, ‘These 10 Web sites that cater to the decision makers you’re looking to reach embedded your clip.’ That’s a more valuable metric to go by.”

New technologies and tools are changing the way PR pros are measuring video effectiveness, says Obregon. Now, it’s not just how many, but where viewers are looking at a video; what they’re viewing it on (smartphone, laptop); and what parts of the videos people respond to (such as turning up the volume).


But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The generation of meaningful video metrics should start with mapping out objectives before a video is uploaded, says Doug Simon of DS Simon Productions, a broadcast PR and video company. What are you trying to accomplish with the video? Is it to draw in new customers? Bring more people to your Web site? Or simply to create awareness around a new product or service? Setting the objective, says Simon, will have a big bearing on the kind of distribution you’ll seek for the video, and ultimately in identifying the metrics you’ll be tracking.

In your campaign planning, suggests Jared Hendler, global director of digital and creative at MWW Group, keep the following strategic concept in mind: Video is not about push, like an advertisement—getting the audience to take an action, he says. “Video is all about pull, bringing something of value to the audience—a clip that they would be excited to share with friends.”

Indeed, the concept of getting the audience to buy something from a video clip is misguided, says Jonathan Kay, ambassador of buzz at Grasshopper Group, a company that supports entrepreneurs. “Most communicators don’t like to hear that,” says Kay. “But there’s just a small chance that a link on YouTube will spark someone to take some kind of action.”


Engagement, however, is another story. Those are the metrics that count, says Kay. A video that is distributed across a variety of digital platforms should spark comments, likes, tweets and retweets. Those kinds of actions are what Kay and his digital team track.

There’s nothing too complicated about the process, either. Grasshopper uses Google Alerts and TweetDeck to track comments across the digital spectrum. And YouTube, says Kay, now has excellent analytics capabilities. Combining both YouTube and Google Analytics allows you to see all the sites on which your video is landing.


According to Obregon, YouTube Insights contains most of the measurement tools you’ll need. Obregon highlights three in the YouTube toolbox that have been helpful to him and his team at C&W:

• Discovery: Find out how people discovered your video. See specifically which search terms on YouTube or Google led the user to your video, which related videos led to your discovery or which Web sites embed your videos. “Discovery lets you know if your video is being picked up by a different, sometimes unexpected audience, which may prove valuable to you,” says Obregon.

• Hot Spots: Informs how people are consuming a clip and where they are dropping off. The tool allows you to tell which parts of a video are hot or cold. “You can really get a sense of audience threshold, and where to tighten videos up,” says Obregon.

• Views and Popularity: “What’s interesting to me is global consumption of videos,” he says. “It can tell you what topics and content are resonating worldwide.”

In terms of effective external measuring tools, both Obregon and MWW’s Hendler recommend TubeMogul, a free service that lets you upload your clips to video sharing sites and track them. “You can load multiple clips to multiple sites, and collect data all in one place,” says Obregon.

Another company, Ooyala, measures viewership by platform—laptop, mobile, PC, etc. Obregon predicts that this metric will become more important as time goes on. And if that isn’t enough, Nielsen, famous for its broadcast analytics, moved deeper into the online video space when it acquired GlanceGuide in 2010. Though the service isn’t cheap, Nielsen can track a video’s viewing duration, visibility and even audio volume and—just like it does with traditional broadcast channels—offer a composite effectiveness score.

“Because there are so many more sophisticated tools coming into the market there’s less emphasis on views,” says Obregon. This rightly puts more emphasis on video as an awareness tool.

But Grasshopper’s Kay cautions not to go video crazy. He worries about his entrepreneur clients who put video too high on their communications priority list. “They see videos going viral on the Web, and they think it can happen for them,” says Kay. “If you have the five to 10 grand to produce a great video, then do it. Otherwise, start with a really great blog post.”

While Hendler also recommends not putting your videos all in one basket, he takes a more measured tack.

“With digital, think of multiple points of engagement,” he says. “Video is one piece of what should be an integrated campaign, which starts with understanding the marketplace and determining measurement goals.”

Setting goals is key, says Simon, but when it comes to video, it’s a process that communicators too often neglect. PRN


Tony Obregon, [email protected]; Doug Simon, [email protected]; Jonathan Kay, [email protected]; Jared Hendler, [email protected].