How Social Media Platforms Track & Measure Video Views
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How Does YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Et. Al. Count Video Views?
Digital video is well on its way to becoming the most trafficked online media type—it’s been predicted that it will constitute over 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2020 (Cisco). Recent growth has been fueled by new platforms launched by the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram. These platforms have provided marketers and content creators with a variety of options to distribute and promote their videos, as well as engage with their audiences.
With the influencer marketing industry projected to be a 5 to 10 billion dollar global market within the next several years, a significant portion of these dollars will undoubtedly be spent on video marketing campaigns. As marketers invest more and more in digital video, measurement and accountability will become an increasing concern. Here we break down a key metric, video views across all major social media platforms, in order to give marketers a better idea of how to assess their video marketing campaigns.
Not All Social Media Video Views Are Alike
While YouTube hasn’t fully disclosed how it counts video views, YouTube strives to ensure that videos are being viewed by “actual humans and not computer programs” (YouTube). While YouTube (like many other social media apps and networks) keeps its tracking procedures mostly secret, it has stated that views are only counted if they last for “around 30 seconds” (Marketing Land).
YouTube’s core metrics for videos include
- “Views”—the number of times a video is viewed in the context of a playlist
- “Viewer Percentage”—the percentage of views coming from logged-in users (YouTube). Recently, YouTube removed the “uniques” metric from its core metric set, which has led to some changes in YouTube’s algorithms (more on that further down below).
At the end of 2015, Recode reported that Facebook was experiencing 8 billion video views. While no figure has been recently disclosed, the recent growth and development of Facebook Live suggest that Facebook's total video views could be markedly higher. Recently Facebook came under fire for a "miscalculation/misunderstanding" in video views.
Due to the unique way that videos are consumed on Facebook (most users happen across videos while scrolling through their newsfeed), their definition of a “video view” is one that lasts three seconds or more. On desktop, video autoplay only begins when the video is 100% viewable onscreen while on mobile, autoplay occurs at 50% viewability. Views that meet this criteria are counted across all formats, including those that auto-play in News Feeds (Facebook).
Like Facebook, a view on Instagram is counted when a video is watched for 3 or more seconds (Instagram). Instagram’s view counts do not include loops and only include views that take place within the Instagram app—not from an embedded post or desktop computer (Instagram).
This year, Snapchat reached 10 billion daily views in April (Bloomberg), a number that's significantly higher than Facebook's latest published stat, but again, it's important to consider how Facebook vs. Snapchat counts their video views. Snapchat counts a view as soon as it is opened/played (Recode). However, when an individual watches a Snap multiple times, only one view is counted (Tyler Lawrence).
For ad billing purposes, Twitter views are counted when a video is 100% in-view (on both mobile and desktop) and has been watched for at least 3 seconds (Twitter). Twitter’s high visibility standards differentiate it from the other platforms (Twitter).
Related Post: The Top 11 Online Video Marketing Statistics
What Video Views Mean For Social Media Influencers
Content creators or social media influencers have a give-and-take relationship with social media platforms. Each social media network provides influencers with a unique platform, medium, and channels for exposure and promotion. In turn, influencers help fuel the platforms’ cultural relevance and ad revenue. It goes without saying that video view count is among the most important factors that impact their collective success.
YouTube influencers have long been complaining about falling video view counts and the general theory has always been that they were due to algorithm changes (Mashable). In the past, YouTube has indicated to disgruntled users that drops in subscriber count can be attributed to the removal of “spammed subscribers” however a new video (see below) by Matthew Patrick "The Game Theorists" presents a different perspective from the vantage point of a well-respected YouTuber. The company has been very public in stating that their algorithm prioritizes their vision to ensure that videos are viewed by humans, not computer programs (YouTube).
Recent video view updates have been met with ire from loyal content creators—some have even threatened to leave. YouTube's top-earning creator, PewDiePie (49M subscribers), has vowed to delete his YouTube channel upon reaching 50M subscribers. In fact, he’s gone as far as to change his YouTube profile to a picture of Mark Zuckerberg (BBC). Whether influencers will leave YouTube is unclear. If they do, other social platforms will undoubtedly welcome them with open arms as they look to eat into YouTube’s view share.
What Video View Counts Mean For Brands & Advertisers
Video view counts can be one of the ways brands vet and evaluate potential influencers for an influencer marketing campaign. Unlike a high subscriber count, which may superficially measure reach, high video view counts help indicate an influencer’s engagement levels with their audiences. Brands should take into account video view engagement over sheer reach indicators.
While high average video view counts are an important engagement metric, it's also important to recognize other engagement metrics, such as comments, likes, social sentiment, and shares which are also important when evaluating potential influencers and campaigns performance. At the end of the day, a multi-faceted approach to measuring influencer campaigns is ideal.
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December 13, 2016 By Mediakix Team