One of the challenges with any training program or other basic instruction is to make sure it achieves what it was designed for. Measurement is critical if you want to know how your video is performing.
You don’t want to spend time to create something only to share your video on social media or internally and find out that nobody clicked play and the view count was low.
Important metrics like play rate, conversion rate, number of viewers, and bounce rate have been part of video marketing for a long time.
But in this quick guide, we will focus on some of the measurements you’ll want to for instructional video content. Not all video players and hosts offer the same metrics, although many of them have similar ones or may call them different names.
Below we list a few common ones, and explain what you can understand about your videos by looking at them.
What video metrics should you pay attention to in your video strategy?
1. Plays and views
One of the most straightforward metrics to track with video is the number of times a video has been played. The play number may not be helpful as a standalone metric but can provide some key insights.
First, the number of Plays tells you if your video is getting watched. If not, you’ll want to ask some questions as to why. Is there a technical reason that people aren’t watching, such as the video not working in the browser? Or maybe your audience isn’t finding the video in search? Or is there some other problem that is breaking the link or prohibiting the playback?
Beyond seeing the number of Plays hopefully growing, what else should you look for? Are you expecting to hit a certain threshold but not seeing enough Plays? (e.g., 30 people were registered to go through the course, but the video Play number is only seven.) On the other hand, are you seeing a higher number of views than anticipated? It could mean people are watching multiple times, or the video is drawing in unanticipated viewers.
It’s hard to dig into specifics with video Plays. There are other data points that we’ll look at that can paint a better picture of what is happening. However, remember it’s the easiest of the data to get and does provide some information worth knowing.
2. Unique plays
Another data point that most services provide is the Unique Plays of a video. First, a definition. A Play counts every time the video play button is pushed, including Plays by the same person. Unique Plays filters out repeat video playbacks by the same person. Meaning, if I play a video twice, the Play amount is two, and the Unique Play amount is one. You should know, a viewer who watches the video once from their laptop and once from their phone may count as two Unique Plays, depending on your video host’s capability to determine if a viewer is the same. You should check with your video host’s documentation to better understand what’s counted as a Unique Play.
Knowing if your audience is watching a video multiple times can lead you to questions and insights into the effectiveness of your video.
If viewers are watching your video more than once, you’ll want to figure out:
- Is it because the video’s interesting, enjoyable, and/or useful?
- Was there confusion that required multiple viewings?
- Is the video being used as a job aid or reference guide?
To answer these questions, you may need to look at other metrics and data, or you may need to go ask your audience. Finding out the answers to these questions is well worth your time, because it will help you better position your video going forward.
If someone is confused, it might mean the video isn’t effective, or the audience isn’t prepared for the presented information. Or, if the video is being used as a job aid and referred back to often, is video the best way to provide the information?
Unique Plays may not help you completely understand the impact your video is having. It can, however, help give you context about your viewers’ behaviors and lead to other interesting and important questions.
3. Watch time
Another common statistic most video hosts provide is the video Watch Time. The Watch Time is a cumulative amount of how much your video has been seen by your audience.
For instance, if ten viewers each watch one minute of a video, the watch time would be ten minutes. If one viewer watches ten minutes, the watch time would still be ten minutes.
However, If one viewer of the ten only watches 30 seconds, the watch time would be nine minutes and 30 seconds.
From this, you can see if the viewers are watching a majority of your video. When you use Watch Time with other stats, like Plays, you can start to paint a picture of what your viewers are doing when watching your videos. You also may see if viewers from specific traffic locations (i.e., social media, website, advertisements, etc…) garner more attention and longer Watch Times.
If one particular audience demographic is watching more than others, you could make some decisions on future content. You can adjust your video to accommodate those not watching or lean in and support those who are watching by creating more content similar to what’s already being viewed.
Make sure that as you look at metrics like Watch Time you consider them within the context of all of the other metrics available. Using all available data will help you make better decisions about what viewers are doing and if any changes are needed to ensure that viewers get what they need from your videos.
4. Audience retention and engagement
One stat that is extremely useful is Audience Retention or Audience Engagement. Audience Retention is often depicted as a line graph that goes up as more people are watching that part of the video, and less as fewer people watch the video.
So if multiple people watch or rewatch the first 10 seconds of the video, the line will trend upward or be high-up on the graph. As fewer people watch, the line will drop. The Retention graphic can trend up mid-video if multiple viewers rewatch a section of the video.
There are a couple of insights you can gain from the Audience Retention graph. One is a quick comparison of how many people started watching versus how many viewers were still watching at the end of the video.
Another takeaway is to see if retention spiked or went up at any place within the video. You’ll also want to look for changes that cause viewership to drop.
In both cases, maybe something funny happened that caused people to watch that part multiple times? Or perhaps something visually interesting caught their attention?
On the other hand, that part of the video could have moved too quickly or was confusing, causing viewers to watch it again to understand the information. Look for anything that might cause a change, and ask, “What happens at this point that would cause viewers to decide to take this action?”
The Retention Graph won’t tell you why viewers behaved the way they did; it can only tell you what they did.
It will be up to you to interpret the data and determine why it happened. This may take some investigation. Watch the video to see if you notice anything to cause the behavior. You may need to survey or talk with your audience. Or you might want to take your best guess and determine if you need to make a change to the video to better help your viewers.
Measuring video metrics is always super important when releasing a video or training program. It allows you to have valuable information about its performance and helps with making future content.