YouTube Analytics: Marketers Draw New Insights from Old Uploads

YouTube’s new reporting features have been out just a day, but marketers have already gleaned new insights about old videos.

Previously, the Google-owned platform reported only the raw number of views captured by a given video, along with a short list of the clip’s top traffic sources. The new features let content owners obtain a wider range of data about who viewed their videos, where they viewed them, and when. It’s information YouTube says can be applied in planning future video programs.

That may be, although for the moment, marketers seem content revisiting the past.

Michael Bassik, VP Internet advertising at political communications firm MSHC Partners, said members of his team spent yesterday sifting through metrics for its clients’ previously posted videos. The results were enlightening. In one instance, he said MSHC had linked a recent spike in traffic on an older clip, featuring comedienne Sarah Silverman, to her recent appearance on ” Jimmy Kimmel Live.” (The broadcast sketch, dubbed “I’m F**king Matt Damon,” was posted to YouTube a month ago and drove considerable new traffic to MSHC’s eight-month-old video for, a clean fuel initiative.)

“The fact that we can tie spikes in YouTube streams to a particular blog post or the launch of an ad campaign or mention in an article…gives us insight into the content we’re creating,” said Bassik.

Marketers and other video producers can access two basic data points through the new analytics interface: where a clip’s viewership hailed from, and the number of views it garnered on each day since it was uploaded. Geographic data can be called up on a country-by-country or, in the U.S., state-by-state basis. The capabilities should let uploaders establish links between viewing patterns and other events, such as regional ad campaigns or breaking news.

A Google spokesperson suggested YouTube’s geographical insights could help marketers determine ad effectiveness and campaign optimization. For instance, he said, different versions of a movie trailer might perform better in different regions.

Kari Chisholm, president of Mandate Media, was glad to confirm today that a recent campaign aimed at progressives in Oregon had indeed reached its target audience, though video watchers did bleed over into California.

“One of the challenges for content creators is your content…just goes out into the world and you never really know who’s looking at your stuff,” he said. “I intended that to be viewed by people in Oregon, and sure enough, it was read by people in Oregon.”

Even as they relished poring over the viewer data for their historic uploads, brand marketers called for feature enhancements. Requested features include the ability to know when people tend to abandon a video and whether a clip was viewed on YouTube or embedded on an outside site.

Google acknowledged the analytics product is far from complete, but said further enhancements are waiting in the wings. For example, in the next few weeks the spokesperson promised video owners will be given detailed reports on inbound traffic sources.

MSHC’s Bassik said he hopes YouTube’s move will usher in a wave of improved analytics offerings from other Web 2.0 platforms such as Facebook.

“YouTube’s decision to provide daily traffic and geographic information is something most of the other social sites have stayed away from,” he said. “Social sites in general have a long way to go until they can provide a full understanding of social media metrics.”

Mandate Media’s Chrisholm expressed a similar hope that its cause-based marketing clients would soon be able to gather more data on the effectiveness of their non-traditional online campaigns.

“In this 2.0 world, where we create content and put it on other people’s Web sites, it’s a lot harder to know what effect we’re having because you can’t look at the log files,” Chrisholm said. “For YouTube to have made available statistics for the content that’s been created is very powerful.”

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