How do you track your stats if you are pivoting to video?

It’s official: video is the marketing tool of the future. From 2011 to 2015, video consumption grew faster than any other medium. You could call it the Moore’s Law of marketing – though it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Indeed, a forecast by Cisco predicts that 75 percent of mobile traffic will be video content by 2020, increasing at an annual rate of 64 percent.

Social giants like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube have all been fierce competitors in the video revolution, introducing dynamic changes to their platforms. Snapchat, arguably, was the key innovator, popularising the previously verboten vertical video and bringing short daily vlogs to the masses in a Truman Show-style departure.

Mark Zuckerberg, never one to miss a trick, recognised the massive potential of social video. Borrowing heavily from Snapchat, he introduced ‘Stories’ on both Facebook and Instagram. YouTube has taken a different route with the introduction of Red, its subscription platform which features big name personalities from some of its most popular channels such as Lilly Singh and PewDiePie.

Meanwhile, Twitter has become a haven for GIFs and short, looping clips, while Snapchat has had to strike out elsewhere and now leads for filters and AR.

But the net effect is the same: in short, no marketing channel is exempt from the growth of video, and all stand out for different reasons.

The growth of different metrics – a pressure cooker for marketers?

The rise (and ‘pivot to’) of video has changed the way consumers access media. As video innovations shape the way users consume content, they also drastically change the way marketers measure that consumption. The pressure is on marketers to be reactive, with an emphasis on identifying and tracking new metrics.

A prime example of pivoting to video is BuzzFeed, a publisher whose strategy sharply diverged from listicles, GIFs, and quizzes to include scores of video across multiple channels. Its food empire, Tasty, reaches millions of people per month, while its channels have millions of subscribers.

The question, then, becomes: how do you track video success – especially when the very definition of a view can be contentious?

Same metric, different result: the Goldilocks complex of video metrics

For example, Google Analytics might inform you that your brand video received a 15 percent watch rate on your website.

However, on Facebook the same video received a 50 percent watch rate. The issue?

Unless the option is turned off, Facebook automatically plays videos in the newsfeed, and it counts a result or ‘view’ as a user watching for three seconds.

Google Analytics records a clicked ‘view’ as a result only, i.e. when a user actively presses ‘play’ on the video. YouTube counts the same metric at the 30-second point.

Needless to say, this difference represents a headache for marketers as they measure the success of a piece of content across channels.

However, there are best practice techniques which marketers can adopt to avoid confusion and to make sure they’re measuring ‘meaningful metrics.’

How to track your stats for success

1.  Measure by channel

The first tactic is to be aware of the different content formats and reporting mechanics on every channel, and to measure success slightly differently for each.

“We don’t use the same metrics for success on each platform […] for example,” says Dao Nguyen of BuzzFeed, “for certain kinds of videos we look at views on YouTube but shares on Facebook. We found that different metrics were clearer signals on these different platforms.”

This calls for a holistic approach to video reporting; a snapshot of data trends across all video channels.

2. Measure by video and business KPI

The second step is to align video to a campaign or business objective, and to tag your videos by content type, campaign, or objective.

For example, is the goal of the video to support direct response? Some will select ‘play rate’ as the best metric, as this measures video clicks only. If the goal is reach or brand affinity, then ‘watch rate’ is potentially the best bet.

“Knowing what you’re trying to do or learn is the first step in figuring out what metrics to look at… Identify your KPIs in advance. We are trying to learn and achieve different things with each platform and video/post type. Ultimately, the reason we care about data is that we hope to learn something from it,” Dao asserts.

3. Consistency is still key

The most important step is to introduce an element of consistency in your reporting, by choosing one strong metric to measure success for one video, beyond the broad definition of a ‘video view’.

‘Watch rate’ or ‘completion rate’ (the percentage of your video watched) and ‘total duration’ or ‘watch time’ (the total amount of time all users have watched your video) are examples of strong, consistent metrics which can be used to measure success across all channels. They are also strong indicators of user intent.

A good attribution model will allow for a holistic approach; measuring success within each channel, combined with cross-channel comparison on one consistent metric.          

Aggregating video results from multiple sources

Another issue for marketers and pivoting to video is their monthly reporting – more specifically, the resources and time spent aggregating metrics into one measurable statistic every single month.  

Reporting tasks could involve downloading or exporting the results from each channel into an Excel spreadsheet, or copying them directly from each dashboard into a report template.

Fortunately, with the rise in data analysis and software services, much more efficient options are emerging: new platforms which automate the process, and which give one solution for across-the-board reporting.

A digital marketing dashboard is a dream solution for marketers trying to swim the ever-changing tide of video marketing.

The dashboard is a data integration engine, which does all the manual labour for you – it plugs into your website and social platforms, aggregates your marketing data and presents the results into a simple dashboard. This dashboard offers an overview of video performance across all channels, in one location.

Each video can be viewed by a list of different metrics, and results for all channels can be viewed in one seamless interface.

So there you have it: the key to pivoting to video. The hard part? Creating the video to fuel the metrics!

Looking for a cohesive way to track your video data?

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