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Counting Online Video “Views”

Video Views - From Tubemogul

In a talk I gave in January, I said that I did not know what online video statistics mean. A few people in the audience insisted that YouTube counted a “view” only if the clip played in full.

They were wrong.

Not only were they wrong, a study from last fall (2008) suggests that most video “views” can be measured in seconds.

TubeMogul analyzed viewed-seconds for a sample of 188,055 videos (22,724,606 streams) on six top video sites (Hulu and YouTube were not included). The results are in the above graph.

But what counts as a “view”?

In 2007, TubeMogul analyzed eight video sites to determine when a “view” is a “view.”

  • AOL Uncut: Any view was counted. Views that originate from embedded views were counted.
  • DailyMotion: Only the first view (full or partial) was counted. DailyMotion did not record views that result from embedded videos.
  • Google Video: A video play was “counted” only when it was viewed for more than half the length of the video. Google Video did not count views that result from an embedded video.
  • MetaCafe: Metacafe told the researchers that they counted a view if 50% of the video was viewed or at least 30 seconds.
  • MySpace: Any view that lasted at least half the length of the video counted. Views that originate from embedded views were counted. MetaCafe counted a single view from an embedded video.
  • Revver: Any view was counted. Views that originate from embedded views were counted.
  • Yahoo! Video: Multiple full-length views were not counted. Yahoo! Video did not count views from embedded videos.
  • YouTube: Only full-length views in-full from a single IP address counted. Multiple embed plays from a single IP addressed counted as only one view. YouTube counts a single view from embedded video; if multiple views come from the same IP address, only the first is recorded.

That was 2007. In 2008, YouTube and Yahoo! “relaxed” their definitions:

Tubemogul concluded:

[T]he lack of standardization presents complexity to content producers and advertisers in understanding the relative popularity of videos across video sites. To fully realize the potential of advertising models in the online video medium, increased standardization and transparency is required.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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