How to measure your video content’s success

Evaluating results from videos goes far beyond just counting the number of views. Try these in-depth approaches.

Video is one of the most engaging ways to communicate with an audience, and digital platforms are doubling down on it. However, one area where video-minded PR professionals fall short is measuring the success of their video communications. How do we know when our video is generating meaningful results? Let’s look at the video communications funnel today.

The old way

The old way of measuring video success was simple, if ineffective: How many views did your video receive? This harkens back to the old days of web analytics when we all tracked hits.

As Katie Delahayne Paine said, HITS is an acronym: How Idiots Track Success.

Video views are no different; certainly, zero views of your video is something to correct, but your measurement shouldn’t stop there. If we focus only on views, we ignore the business impact of our video content.

The video communications measurement funnel

Views are what start our journey towards video marketing success, but even this number can be misleading. Consider the handful of other metrics that services like YouTube give us:

Did anyone watch our video until the end? Did people engage with the video on the hosting service?

Let’s bring some order to these metrics and many others with a focus on proving business value:

We measure viewership from the very beginning of the video to the end, as well as the actions we want our audiences to take.

Video metrics

We care how many video views we obtain as well as completions. If the number of views is zero, your video was a waste of time and resources. We care about completions as well, especially for long-form videos. Did the audience stick around for the entire show, or did everyone leave after the first act?

Audience metrics

We want to know how many people became members of our audience, temporarily and permanently. How many unique human beings watched your video? How many then subscribed to your video content? Depending on the video service, these might be called subscribers (YouTube), followers (Snapchat/Instagram), or Likes (Facebook). No matter what they’re called, they signal audience intent-your audience liked your content enough to want more of it.

Engagement metrics

Besides subscribing, did the audience show intent for this specific video? We want to know how many likes/votes, comments, and shares our video received. Not all services provide all three categories of engagement; Instagram, for example, does not permit sharing natively in its app. Use whatever metrics are available in the platform of your choice.

Action metrics

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. What did your audience do next? Every video should have a call to action of some kind, from “Go play our app/game” to “Download this ” to “Buy something now!” Whatever actions are important to us, we should call them out strongly in our videos. Depending on the service, we either need to burn these calls to action directly into the video (Instagram/FB/Snapchat) or create overlays that provide a clickable path to the desired action (YouTube TrueView cards).

Put the pieces together

Many of these metrics come from different parts of our analytics infrastructure, especially if the video is posted on multiple channels. Once we’ve got our data compiled in an orderly fashion, we need to understand what drives the actions we care about. For this, use a statistical tool/method such as multiple regression/linear analysis of variance to understand which metrics potentially drive actions.

Once we understand how a combination of completions plus comments drives actions, we can test specific behaviors to see how effectively they motivate a response.

Reporting to others

As we mentioned in our recent webinar on Google Data Studio™, many of our stakeholders don’t need every scrap of data we can provide. Instead, some choose to report only the video metrics our statistical analysis determines to be meaningful and the actions that resulted. Put those in a single Data Studio dashboard and let stakeholders see the impact your video communications have.

Video impact can be measured

As in the early days of the web, video measurement still lags behind other content marketing measurement. However, unlike the early days of the web, the tools and capabilities we have today as marketers and communicators are vastly greater than those available during the first dotcom boom of the late 1990s. Every marketer and communicator has access to industry-leading statistical tools that can prove the value of our efforts. Use them in concert with the rich metrics available from video hosting services to showcase the true value of your video communications.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

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