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The Muddy World of Online Video Engagement

Brandon

August 27, 2015
Brandon

By: Rohan Krishnan, Summer 2015 Video Production Intern

The Internet has ushered in an amazing atmosphere for content creators. All you need is a smartphone and usually a cat. Within a matter of seconds, your video has been shot, edited, and distributed to the world. The next thing you know, it is featured on news sites, has its own segment on The Today Show, and shortly thereafter, some of the most highly respected brands in the world are buying ad space from you.

In today’s constantly connected world, it makes no sense to think of the Internet as a single medium. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and other social media services are not only making it easier to share content, but they also simplify the process of measuring audience engagement. Content creators are able to monetize from their work based on theoretically accurate view counts, which attract advertisers to create pre-roll videos. But as the online environment has expanded, what’s considered a view has become less concrete.

In his latest Medium article, Vlogbrothers creator Hank Green used a variety of statistics to contrast engagement on Facebook and YouTube. Facebook analytics will count views at the three-second mark of a video. Green points out that a view is a view regardless of whether or not the user has enabled audio on the video. These metrics simply measure eyeballs, and do not consider engagement, and it shows; in just thirty seconds, 79% of viewers have moved on to other items in their newsfeed.

While Facebook technically streams an enormous amount of web video, the short attention span of its users adds caveats to the data that it generates. On the other hand, YouTube uses engagement to measure views. The site benefits from an 86% retention rate after the first thirty seconds. Analytics are increasingly driving creative expressions in the advertising space. Brands should take views with a grain of salt. Before making drastic strategic changes, it is clearly worthwhile to see how views differ depending on the distribution platform. Engagement is at the core of reliable metrics.

“Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video” by Hank Green.

By: Rohan Krishnan, Summer 2015 Video Production Intern