Video is perhaps the preeminent means to market product, but you could be measuring its impact all wrong.
B2B companies typically measure videos exclusively in terms of their contribution to conversions, and B2C companies typically measure video in exclusively in terms views and impressions.
Both have big problems, according to video hosting platform Wistia. A more valuable metric to justify investment is to measure the amount of time watched.
Wistia unpacks its argument in an article on the company’s website.
Conversion-based measurement, it says, is an attempt to put a meaningful monetary figure on the value received from the video, such that one can calculate ROI by comparing cost and return.
Simply put, you’re trying to work out how many people ended up purchasing your product or service after watching your video.
Sophisticated methods track the same user over multiple sessions and channels, using cookies, to see if they watch a video and then come back to purchase at a later date. This is known as an “assisted conversion.” Different attribution models are then used to determine how much won revenue should be applied to each session and interaction.
So far so good, and Wistia acknowledges this measurement is actually very useful for pure product, onboarding, and sales videos.
“The problems arise, however, when you rely on conversion for all videos, as your sole KPI,” the company explains.
Doing so is essentially saying that the main job of each video you create is to drive conversion, or in other words, every video is a product or sales video. But video, self-evidently, can be so much more than this. What if someone watches my video, talks about my brand in a private Slack group, and then a contact of theirs visits my website to become a customer? How do measure that when the video has done a lot of the hard work but gets none of the reward?
“The main problem with conversion-only measurement is what it does to the creative process. If you measure every video like a product video, you end up making only product videos. This leaves you with content that feels overly self-promotional, which quickly turns audiences off.”
What about impression-based measurement? This is an attempt to determine how many people your videos has reached in order to calculate market penetration and brand awareness.
Again, this metric has its uses but not when impressions become your sole KPI.
“Doing so is essentially saying that the main job of each video is to generate reach — every video should be as shareable and immediately engaging as possible.”
This problem circles back to the creative. If you measure every video like a viral social video, you only make viral social videos. Lots and lots of short videos, all with catchy hooks. Learning videos, intended to simply educate potential customers, become unnecessarily short, with a disingenuous hook for the sake of maximizing average percentage watched and view counts, making them feel shallow.
Wistia wants marketers to place more emphasis on time spent watching a video, arguing that word of mouth is becoming the most important means of influencing purchasing decisions, for individuals and companies.
“Time Watched is a great KPI for the vast majority of videos,” it says. “It prevents us from caring only about people who purchase and people who engage with our content, however insignificant the impact is for them.”
Admittedly, this has problems of its own. For starters, “Time Watched” extrapolates from a concrete sense of “people impacted” to a more abstract number, “content consumed.” Where I can imagine X number of people watching a video or Y percentage of those people converted, it’s much harder to mentally visualize consumption.
It’s also, intentionally, not a metric that can be seen through the lens of “ROI,” or tied to a typical conversion funnel.
The great value of Time Watched for those trying to justify investment in video is that it’s a metric that can be used to compare different media types.
“If I can show that 500 hours were spent reading 20 blog posts, but 700 hours were spent watching just five videos, it makes the case for shifting from investment in text and images to videos much easier.
“If we can grasp the concept that, as marketers, we are no longer optimizing for share of voice, (i.e. the amount of noise being made) but for share of mind (i.e. the time and consideration people are spending with your company), Time Watched reveals itself as the best possible universal video metric.”