Campaign measurement and metrics tracking is a must for digital content marketers. But, unlike other brand communication and advertising channels like PPC/SEM and blogging, where success is typically dictated by clicks and follow-on signup or purchase conversions, a common core objective in video marketing – particularly social video marketing – is to create content that encourages a strong enough emotional connection or response from a viewer that leads them to (1) share the video, (2) display a more positive affinity toward the brand, (3) explore additional brand properties (potentially further down the conversion funnel at a destination like a landing page or e-commerce store), or, even better, (4) perform some combination of all three. In other words, social video typically reaches people outside or at the very beginning of the typical inbound marketing funnel, a place where identification and attribution analysis can be most challenging.
As a result, video marketing success must be measured both quantitatively and qualitatively (with a heavy emotional component to the latter). Because of this, and with a goal of clarifying some common video marketing misconceptions, we’ve put together a practical guide to help digital marketers get started measuring the results of their video efforts.
1. Earned Media Views
Although a simple view count is the typical conversation starter when it comes to video performance, outside of directionally indicating content quality an impression count, total views are primarily a vanity metric that convey more symbolic significance than bottom-line results. In fact, probably the single most important thing a video view count establishes is social proof (or lack thereof) that the video might be worth looking at. All other things equal, from a consumer psychology standpoint, a video with 1,000,000 views will get a viewer’s click over a video with 10 views simply because of the perceived “potential interestingness” the higher view count conveys.
Why? For starters, views can be paid for. While there’s nothing wrong with this practice (in fact, quite the contrary, we actually encourage reasonable video distribution spending to help effectively seed marketing videos and help quality content get discovered online), the simple fact is that anyone can get a million views on their video with a large enough budget backing it. Second, a high number of views can still translate to low engagement from a minutes viewed and viewer retention standpoint if the video has a high, steep drop-off rate during watch sessions.
Our recommendation: Track your video’s absolute earned media (e.g., non-paid) video views from social media and search engine referral views.
Earned Media = Total Views – Owned Media (views from your website, Facebook page, etc.) – Paid Media (CPV or other promoted views)
If 20% or more of your video’s total views aren’t coming from earned media from social and search, you aren’t reaching audiences beyond your existing follower base, and it’s likely you should explore improving both the quality and the discoverability of your video content. Videos that are shared are 3 times more likely to be watched and are watched 3 times longer than a video that a user finds himself.
Over half a million branded videos are shared every 24 hours. What kind of share rates is your brand getting?
Based on ZoomTilt research and branded content performance data we’ve observed, a quality baseline share rate for social video is approximately 0.25%-0.50% direct shares (from the player or player-embedded page, excluding re-shares from social networks) as a percentage of total content views. In most cases, even smash hit digital video ad campaigns only see circa 2.5% direct share rates.
Be sure to track how your content is being shared. And, just as importantly, consider and try to benchmark why your content will be shared during the creation.
Why do people share things online according to the New York Times?
3. Subscriber Conversions
As marketers, we all recognize the importance of subscriber lists. In many cases, email lists are the backbone of web commerce companies like Fab, Karmaloop, Birchbox and Rue La La. Video marketing is no difference: there’s much less value in a one-time view or share than a subscriber who sticks around for more.
In fact, if you’re using a hosting provider like Wistia, you can even capture email conversions within your video player:
However, with the bulk of social video activity happening on YouTube (and driven by shares of YouTube embeds on blogs and social networks), YouTube channel subscribers is a critical metric for the ongoing success of your video content marketing efforts.
An interesting case study example is “The Beauty Inside” video campaign by Intel & Toshiba. Released as an interactive web series, “The Beauty Inside” reached close to 7 million YouTube views and 14 million Facebook page interactions, according to Intel. At a high level, clearly a success, particularly in light of the fact that a concurrent Toshiba laptop campaign running through Best Buy saw sales increase from 200 units a week to 900 units a week during the campaign’s early release.
But one place the “The Beauty Inside” campaign seems to fall short is cultivating YouTube subscribers. As most social media marketers know, a Facebook page like just isn’t what it used to be (more specifically, it’s about 10% of what it used to be), so getting high Facebook engagement from a social video campaign is nice, but less impactful than adding new YouTube subscribers. Moreover, because Intel and Toshiba released “The Beauty Inside” on a special branded channel titled TheBeautyInsideFilm, the 16,000 subscribers they collected don’t subscribe to Intel or Toshiba’s YouTube pages, which TheBeautyInsideFilm doesn’t even bother to link to. In some way, while insulating the artistic integrity of “The Beauty Inside” from overt branding, both brands sacrificed their opportunity to build their YouTube subscriber base – a mis-step in our view.
Our recommendation: pay attention to and encourage subscriptions (channel, email) within your social video campaigns. Building a robust subscriber list on YouTube is one of the best ways to drive recurring brand engagement with your video content.
In next week’s Part 2 we’ll continue our discussion of key measurement metrics for video marketers, looking at click-through-rates (CTRs), view-to-completion, and more, so don’t miss out!