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Rob Simone, President

06 June, 2016

Some days, I feel like all I do is watch videos. And while it makes me occasionally feel like I haven’t seen the sun in days, I’m not alone. The average 16 to 45 year old watches 204 minutes of video a day.

Those are the kind of numbers that most marketers go nuts over.

Especially when those numbers are views. Because for most people, including Facebook, views are king. But, for me, views are just a sliver of the data that videos have to offer. After all, you wouldn’t measure an email campaign by only tracking the total emails that you sent out, would you?

What struck me the other day while I was watching a video (surprise, surprise), was that marketers and content producers have it completely backwards. Every content creator and video evangelist has their own pocket deck of dashboards and statistics, but those all take out the most important part of the equation. 

The person watching the video. 

You, me and everyone else who is online watching right now is interacting with videos in meaningful ways…measurably meaningful ways. We’re pausing when we want to absorb a point, fast forwarding when what’s on screen is boring, replaying because there were pieces of the video that weren’t clear. These interactions are all measurement opportunities but few marketers put real priority on measuring them. 

To prove it, I’ve turned my copywriter, Ben, into a guinea pig. He’s watched two very different videos to demonstrate how his behavior translates to actionable insights. 

He clicks play

Plays show two things. 1. Reach (how many people the video is reaching) and 2. Play rate, which is the percentage of people land on the page and click the video. Play rate isn’t applicable here on YouTube, but if this video were on a landing page the play rate would be very important. 

Laughing his face off, he hits pause so he doesn't miss anything 

The pause button, and why viewers press it, is regularly overlooked. What the viewer does while watching the video is the best way to see what moments, content topics, or creative styles are working or not. For instance, a pause might mean the viewer is laughing at your beautifully delivered punchline, or it might mean that they’re confused because a point wasn’t made clearly. 

 He finishes laughing and watches the rest of the way through

A video’s completion percentage is the best measure of the quality of the engagement. Completed views show that the video held the viewers attention, that they took in your complete message and that they got what they needed/wanted from the video. It’s important to know that viewers are watching your entire video, otherwise they’ll miss any end-of-video CTA’s.

Then he called in a few coworkers and hit replay

Replays say a lot about your video. Since this was a funny video, most likely it means that it was funny enough for the viewer to watch it again. Like completion percentage, replays help measure the quality of the engagement.

 He shared it on Facebook

Shares show that the video was relevant, enjoyable and helpful. For a piece of content whose goal is to entertain, like this video, shares contribute to the overall success of the video. But what if the video had a different objective? If instead this were an educational video, shares might not be a measurement that is important to determining if the video was a success. 

So that’s video number 1. Pretty much a slam-dunk. The next video he watched, being that it’s tax season, is a general education video on how to do your taxes. This is what measurable interaction looks like if the video isn’t as successful. 


 He hit play, but the intro is too long so he skips ahead

Skips, and their frequency, show whether or not the content is resonating with the viewer. Too many skips during a specific section could be an indicator to make future videos shorter or less granular in detail.

The video is still on the introduction so he checks his Facebook

Halfway through the video he closes the tab

Active viewing is a massively under measured piece of video engagement. Knowing whether the viewer is on a different tab, or has the volume muted, are indicators that something about your content isn’t holding the viewers attention.

It’s extremely important to know if viewers are falling off before the video is over. Again, if viewers are falling off early it often means that the video was too long, or that it wasn’t engaging enough to hold the viewers attention.


This is the depth of analytics that video has to offer. It’s a glimpse of the untapped data that’s flowing beneath your videos right now.


As a brand or marketer, these are the insights that can make or break your content campaign. It’s how you should be judging if your content is hitting the mark and it’s the data you should be using to improve the content you produce.