Measuring Success: Why Views Are Not Enough

 In Strategy

Back when Youtube was young, the “viral video” became a highly sought-after prize in reaching audiences. The seven-figure view count was seen as a validation of the video’s inherent value, and still is to many today.

But marketers should and have grown wiser. With the advent of pre-roll advertising on Youtube, view count is no longer the sole determinant metric of a video’s success. The theory is simple. How valuable are your million views when most of them are generated from media spend?

Your next best friend is called time spent

We’ve all skipped Youtube ads as soon as we’re able, which is usually at 5 seconds. Picture this scenario: you publish your video, push it on pre-rolls, and garner a million views. Now take a close look at a metric on Youtube called “watch time”. If you’re averaging 5 seconds per view, it means nobody saw the whole thing.

The same principle applies to website traffic. If you managed to get a million people to land on your website, but they leave in seconds, it means they didn’t properly consume the page enough to have any real impact. Google Analytics can measure this in minutes and seconds perfectly for you.

Time spent is ultimately a measure of how long you can hold one’s attention, and you can make educated guesses on the interesting-ness of your video. If the average watch time of your 5-minute video is 3 minutes, it either means it got too boring in the middle or the video is simply too long. Or both. This will help inform you on how to approach your next video.

Let’s go organic

Every marketer wants their baby to be shared a lot on social media. Measuring “shares” as a metric is simple enough, but we need to look deeper. The question after “how many shares” should be “how many organic views versus paid views?”. You’ll need to spend some media money to introduce your video or link to your Facebook audiences, no doubt. But your organic views is the real measurement of its social value. A reasonable goal is to have at least equal parts organic and paid views.

For websites, this comes in the form of “referrals” and “organic search”. Your aim is to create content so valuable, that other websites start linking to it, and people search for it on Google.

What about comments?

It’s entirely possible for audiences to post negative comments. Which means that having comments indicates that people feel strongly enough about something, in either a good or bad way. Having lots of good comments is definitely a good sign. But if you have zero comments, you’ll have to fall back to time spent to see if anyone is paying attention in the first place.

So remember: clicks and views can be bought. If you want reach, you have to earn it. So just make sure you create valuable content.

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