Made to Measure: Using analytics tools to measure online video

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Online video is all the rage these days. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are investing in video cameras and editing tools, making videos and posting them on the Web. What many of those firms don't realize is that putting video on the Internet without tracking its effectiveness is tantamount to hiring a new sales rep, training her, giving her a customer route and then never checking in with her.

That's where Web site analytics come in. Defined as the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of better understanding and optimizing Web usage, analytics have become a critical element for companies that want to leverage their Internet marketing investments. Analytics are particularly relevant for users of online video and those who want to know if their time and money investments are paying off or not.

By tracking a site's statistics, analytics allow marketers to see how many people are looking at which videos, what sites those visitors are coming from and specifically who those users are. With that information, marketers can measure traffic to their Web sites, understand who's watching what and tweak their online video strategies accordingly.

Analytics tools range from simple programs that can be downloaded for free online to expensive systems that are installed on existing hardware. One of the most popular is Google Analytics. Free for users, the program takes just a couple of hours to install and configure. The program tracks how often visitors come to your site, conversions across multiple pages, visitor behavior and the percentage of people who click each link on a given page.

Video hosting firms also offer analytics tools. Using such systems, marketers can upload their videos and use an application that tracks just how many people actually watch the clips, on which page they clicked “play video,” which videos have the highest engagement rates, how much of each clip was actually watched and at what point the typical user “skipped” to other parts of the show or tuned out completely.

With that information in hand, marketers are able to craft a clear, concise, effective message that not only entices people to watch the video, but also pushes them to buy your product or service.
Analytics tend to work best when integrated into a firm's overall marketing plan, and shouldn't be relied upon as standalone tools.

By combining online video with analytics, firms can craft marketing messages that not only call out to customers online, but also keep them watching the clips. The Holy Grail comes when those viewers take a positive action after viewing the clips such as sending the video lines to friends and family, signing up for an online service or purchasing a product.

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