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The online video metric all marketers should focus on in 2017


The online video metric all marketers should focus on in 2017

We’re all sick of headlines proclaiming that “201X is the year of so-and-so”. The year of mobile, the year of programmatic, the year of the influencer – we’ve heard it all.

Yet in spite of this, Abi Morrish, Digital Engagement Business Director at MEC Wavemaker, truly believes that 2017 is the year of video [1] – and she has the stats to back it up.

Speaking at the Content Marketing Association Digital Breakfast [2] last Wednesday, Morrish cited a prediction by Syndacast [3] that in 2017, online video will account for 74% of all internet traffic, expedited by social media.

Video performs better than any other type of content, says Morrish – with better engagement, more memorable adverts, and better recall experienced by viewers. On Twitter, videos are six times more likely to be retweeted [4] than photos, and three times more likely than GIFs.

But once you start creating video content, how do you know when it’s been successful? With so many different metrics, which one will give you the best indication of how well your video resonates with your audience?

Image: eQuest [5]

The video metrics you should ignore

There are hundreds of things you can measure with your video, but many of them won’t tell you whether your content is actually working.

‘Reach’, as Morrish pointed out, can be bought by anyone, so it is far from being a genuine reflection of how many people your content has ‘reached’ – and what does that mean, anyway? Can reach tell you whether your video has had an impact on someone?

‘Total video views’ might sound like something closer to what you’d need to know – except that it encompasses both those who watch a video all the way through and those who only watch three seconds of a video.

These two categories of people have a drastically different level of engagement with your video, yet they are grouped together under the same metric. Paying attention to ‘total video views’ results in content creators trying to pass the “three-second audition”, where they try desperately to grab the audience’s attention in the first three seconds of the video.

However, tracking completed video views also won’t give you the full picture as to how people are engaging with your video, because watching a video all the way through to completion is very unusual behavior.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t watching. How many times have you clicked away from a video a few seconds before the end, to avoid watching sign-offs or promotional messages? Or maybe you enjoyed half of a video, but then decided to watch something else.

This metric is mainly useful for reminding you to be concise with your delivery and not to put your important messages right at the end of the video.

The magic metric: view-through rate, or average percent viewed

So which metric will give you the best indication of how people are interacting with your videos? The ‘magic metric’, said Morrish, is something known as ‘view-through rate’, or ‘average percent viewed’. It goes by a few different names, but essentially this metric will tell you how much of your video, on average, viewers are watching before they navigate away.

This will give you an indication of not only how long your video is keeping people’s attention for, but how you can best adapt your messaging to how they are interacting with the video. “Out of all the metrics, it’s actually doing its job,” said Morrish.

Morrish gave an example of one brand the company worked with who didn’t begin their key campaign message until 16 seconds into the video, while the view-through rate indicated that people were only watching an average of 11 seconds – meaning they were completely missing the campaign message.

On top of this, knowing how much of your video people are actually viewing is the first step towards being able to push that metric higher. A 2015 study by Google [6] into YouTube advertising found that viewers who watched 30 seconds or more of a video ad (or where the ad was shorter than 30 seconds, the entire ad) showed 45% greater consideration, 14% higher favorability and 19% higher purchase intent [7].

Morrish noted that it is important to understand your audience and their viewing habits, as the average amount of a video that people watch changes significantly depending on the audience. For instance, different age groups demonstrate different tendencies with regard to how much of a video they will watch.

Morrish’s take-away message for video creators was: “Obsess about the small seconds to create big change.” After all, how can you make someone aware of something if they haven’t watched enough of your content?

Video can be hugely beneficial to your marketing as long as you understand which metrics to pay attention to. After that, all that remains is to create great content.

Related reading


  1. ^ 2017 is the year of video (
  2. ^ Content Marketing Association Digital Breakfast (
  3. ^ Syndacast (
  4. ^ six times more likely to be retweeted (
  5. ^ eQuest (
  6. ^ 2015 study by Google (
  7. ^ purchase intent (
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