Taking Measure

This article from Judah Phillips of Reed Business Information in the Media Post is worth a read:

In late 2007, the digital Video Barometer Executive Survey indicated that more than 80% of media and entertainment executives believe tracking, measuring, and monitoring Internet video content is critical to bottom-line profit. That's not surprising. Accurate measurement informs decision-making and improves business performance, and Internet video is more mainstream and popular than ever before.

What may be surprising to those executives is that technology for measuring Internet video generally focuses on video content served on-site, not off-site. It's fairly straightforward for a Web analytics tool to tell you how people are consuming and interacting with on-site video, but consumption and interaction of videos distributed across multiple sites, perhaps virally or via social media campaigning, aren't directly measurable by Web analytics tools. Panel-based technologies can approximate certain off-site measures of video consumption and distribution, but don't provide very deep on-site metrics.

Measurements of Internet video consumption, interaction, and distribution may be categorized as follows:

Instream measurement. Refers to measuring the video itself and the various events and behaviors that occur during a video viewing experience, such as time-based duration metrics and interaction and behavioral metrics (for example, the number of stops, plays, pauses, rewinds, fast-forwards, sites that posted or syndicated the video, clicks on hotspots and social media features).

Outstream measurement. Refers to measuring the content environment and user experience surrounding the video on the site or in the skin, such as the conversion metrics (percentage of visitors downloading or viewing a video), source metrics (refers to the video page, players used), and content metrics (percentage videos viewed by topic, percent videos viewed by file type).
Those categories form a framework for Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) that help to identify how people interact with videos, how videos perform when compared to other videos, and against pre-defined business goals. Analysis of KPIs enables video content to be tailored to maximize performance. Example KPI's include:

Instream KPIs:
- Percent high, medium, and low duration video views
- Average viewing time per video
- Percent visitors who complete the video
- Percent visitors that stop the video within 10 seconds
- Percent visits when this video was the last video viewed
- Percent visits when this video was the first video viewed

Outstream KPIs:
- Conversion rates by video, topic, channel, taxonomy node, referrer, geography, keyword, and so on
- Average video views per visit
- Percent visits/views from different channels (such as email/rss, organic search, paid search, direct)
- Average time between visits that include a video view
- Repeat visit rate for visits involving a video view or download

These KPIs are measurable using a Web analytics tool, and perhaps a few of them are possible using traditional panel-based measurement. But if off-site video distribution creates a whole new set of challenges to using current analytics and audience measurement tools to track instream and outstream metrics and KPIs, what are publishers and advertisers to do? It's a business problem that demands a new technology solution for understanding audience behavior, consumption, and distribution patterns of off-site syndicated or viral video content.

So what would a new technology solution for measuring Internet video and audience behavior do? First it would have to fill the gap between panel and census-based measurement systems in a way that helps both publishers and advertisers -- not just one or the other -- understand audience reach, frequency, and behavior. The technology must enable tracking and actionable reporting and dashboarding of key metrics and KPIs, distribution patterns, behaviors, and interactions regardless of where the video "goes" on the Internet. Audience characteristics from external databases (like OpenID for example) and internal company databases (like subscription and registration dbs) should be able to be integrated with data collected about behavior, video metadata, and instream and outstream metrics.

If measuring digital video is as important as eight out of 10 media and entertainment executives believe it to be, there are some huge money-making opportunities on the horizon -- for companies that are already providing technology for tackling this emerging business need, for advertisers using Internet video to drive awareness and response, and for measurement professionals who can help make sense of the Internet video ecosystem, solve measurement challenges, identify significant business opportunities, and use video metrics to improve business performance. We're certainly at the beginning of the J-curve for Internet video measurement for both publishers and advertisers. After all, Forrester predicts Internet video advertising spend to increase from $471 million last year to $7.1 billion in 2012