A confluence of factors is moving the Internet from text-based to video-centered communications. With broadband connections becoming more common and PCs becoming more powerful, companies are now using rich multimedia to interact with customers.
After all, who wouldn’t prefer watching a video to reading text on a computer screen?
While the change has the potential to make Internet experiences more compelling, it has created a new challenge: How can companies make sure that their video presentations are effective?
Mechanisms such as click-through rates have evolved to determine the effectiveness of text advertisements. These measurements are well known and broadly established. But in many cases, video metrics are much less polished: Companies can track whether a video has been started, but not much else. Ideally, they would like to know if the entire video was watched, if it was paused at any points, if the user rewound any portions, and how much time the person spent viewing the clip.
The rise of social networking sites has added a few other desired metrics to the equation. Companies want to know when users bookmark a clip or comment about the content on a blog. Unlike traditional Web pages, online videos often travel, as individuals share them with friends or coworkers. Videos often move from site to site and viewer to viewer, spreading and changing in unpredictable ways -- a phenomenon seen frequently with YouTube clips -- so companies need to know if the clip is being viewed in places other than their Web sites.
Given the dynamic nature of video content, site operators cannot rely on traditional Web analytics tools to determine what is happening with their video content. New approaches are needed, and they are coming from a couple of different sources.
Startups are trying to step into the void. Visible Measures Corp. 's VisibleSuite provides companies with measurements about how audiences find, view, interact with, and share video content. Founded in 2005, the company’s product tracks how video content spreads across more than 150 of the top video-sharing destinations, such as AOL Video and YouTube.
Glanceguide monitors items such as beginning-to-end views, audience loss, segment analysis, referring sites, geography, and ad conversions. The vendor generates analytic reports that enable companies to determine how well their video content may be faring.
In addition, established Web analytics companies are slowly moving into the video monitoring space. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has added an event-tracking function to its Google Analytics product that helps companies monitor video interactions.
Omniture, whose customers include AOL, CBS, NBC, and CNN, has enhanced its SiteCatalyst product so it tracks video activity. The new version tells Website operators which videos are most popular, at which point people stopped watching a video, and how quickly a video spreads.
Webtrends is another leader in the Web analytics space. The company’s software shows which videos are most popular; captures and reports on key video interactions, such as adding to a playlist, sharing, and replays; analyzes video activity overall by category and by individual titles; and gathers insight into how visitors move among different video clips by analyzing next and previous videos viewed.
The market for these tools is nascent, so the effectiveness of these measurements is still being fleshed out. However, interest in this space is rising, and its importance seems crystal clear to some of the industry’s leading suppliers.
— Paul Korzeniowski is a freelance writer who has been dissecting technology and business issues for two decades.