3 Analytics You Need to Understand for Video

You can create videos all the live-long day, but if you don’t know whether they’re effective, you might as well not be creating them at all.

I spend a lot of time in this space telling you about the importance of creating videos and giving you tips for making your videos better.

That’s not going to change anytime soon, but creating videos isn’t the end of the journey. Today I want to talk about measuring your success.

You can create videos all the live-long day, but if you don’t know whether they’re effective, you might as well not be creating them at all. Depending on where you post your videos, you may have all kinds of options for analytics. It can be a little overwhelming. But I want to highlight three that are easy to understand and incredibly useful, even if you’re new to video analytics:

  1. Audience Retention

In a nutshell, audience retention measures where people stop watching your videos. Do they stay to the end or do they drop off? Where do they drop off?

You want to know these things because they tell you all kinds of stuff about your videos. If people stay to the end, it’s a safe bet they find the information valuable and useful.

However, if they drop off 30 seconds into your three-minute video, they’re probably not getting the information they expected. In that case, maybe your title is unclear. Or perhaps there’s a problem with the video such as bad audio.

Audience retention also shows what parts of your video people watch, what parts they don’t, and what parts they rewatch. Are they skipping your intro to get to the meat of the video? Maybe the intro is too long! Did they blow past the first steps of your instructions? Perhaps this audience doesn’t need the basics.

Seeing which parts people rewatch also can be enlightening, though we may not always know why they rewatched a particular part. Maybe it was funny, or maybe it was unclear and they needed to see it again. Regardless, reviewing the pieces your viewers are rewatching can help you identify areas where you’re doing well or where you need to improve.

Maybe people watch the whole video but then click away before your end card. That’s a good indication to be sure any relevant information in the end card such as contact information or links to other videos is repeated somewhere else in your video.

  1. Watch Time

Like audience retention, watch time focuses on how long people watch your videos, but in this case, it’s more about the overall value of your video vs. certain parts.

Watching videos is a time investment. The longer the video, the greater the investment. While watch time may not tell you a ton about the 30-second explainer video you did, it can be very useful for that 15-minute customer education video. If people stick around through that whole video, they likely find your content valuable.

If they’re watching it because they have to for work, watch time may not tell you much. But for things such as customer education videos or any training you do outside your organization, knowing how long people watch your videos can help you determine the right length and amount of content.

For example, even people who are interested in the video and find it engaging may get bored or overwhelmed if it tries to cover too much.

For internal training videos, watch time is perhaps a less valuable metric, as we expect our employees to watch every minute of every training video we provide. However, it can help you understand the time investment your company is making in training.

For example, let’s say you converted a one-hour instructor-led training (ILT) into a video. By converting it to video, you were able to condense it down to just 25 minutes. If five employees watch the video vs. attending the class, you’ve saved nearly three hours of participant time (five participants for 60 minutes = 5 hours, while five participants times 25 minutes = two hours).

If the training video was as effective as the in-person training, you’ve saved time and money.

  1. Plays and Unique Plays

OK, technically these are separate analytics, but it’s important to know them both AND the differences between them.

Plays are the total number of times your video has been watched. Unique plays is the total number of people who have watched your video.

So let’s say you uploaded a video and when you check the analytics a couple of weeks later, it has 15,000 plays, but only 3,000 unique plays. That means 3,000 people have watched your video a total of 15,000 times.

That alone doesn’t tell you much, but it can give you some things to think about. Why would 3,000 people watch your video an average of five times each?

That’s where combining what you learn from each of these analytics can be helpful.

Combine Analytics for More Insights

In the situation above, you have 15,000 video views, but only 3,000 of those are unique views. Maybe 3,000 viewers just really like your video and they watched it five times.

Or maybe your video isn’t clear enough, so the people who did watch it had to come back an average of five times to truly understand the message or the process you tried to show.

But by looking at other analytics in conjunction with your plays numbers, you might learn more. For example, of those 15,000 views, how many of them watched the whole video? Did they drop off early? If so, you may need to take a look at the places where they’re dropping to see if the message is muddled or the instructions are too advanced.

If people are watching the whole video, they may need to return to watch it again. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If your video is about how to rewire a wall plug, it’s likely the people watching that video don’t do that very often. So they may need to return and rewatch each time they install a new plug.

It can be the same for internal videos. If your video is about how to update your insurance information in your organization’s HR software (something that’s typically only done once a year), it’s likely people just needed a refresher when they needed to perform the task.

However, if your video is about a relatively common task in your software or another easy process, it’s possible your video may not be clear enough or may be confusing your viewers in another way.

Analyze for Success

Creating videos for training can go a long way in helping your customers or colleagues learn new skills or otherwise receive the information they need. But creating and releasing videos is only half the battle. Check your analytics periodically to ensure your videos are as engaging and effective as you need them to be.

These analytics don’t give you a full picture. They’re indications of behavior that give us opportunities to explore. We can identify behavior and then examine why that behavior happens. You may need to play the detective role to help you gain more context and understanding, but the analytics are great clues to help you on your way.

Matt Pierce is Learning & Video ambassador at TechSmith Corp., the go-to company for visual communication. TechSmith empowers people to create remarkable content to share knowledge and information. A graduate of Indiana University’s School of Education’s Department of Instructional Systems Technology, Pierce has more than 10 years of experience working in learning and development with a focus on visual instruction. He has directly managed the training, user assistance, video, and other teams for TechSmith.

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