Category Archives: YouTube

YouTube’s 0.7% upload engagement rate

If you listen to the hyperbole, an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second. This sounds fantastic, and yes, that is a lot of video. However, that’s only a 0.7% daily user engagement rate. The world has not turned into video publishers yet.

There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, so every second 3,600 people on average are concurrently uploading videos (to get 1 hour posted every second). YouTube has 790 million monthly unique visitors. So in any given second, that’s 0.00046% of its entire potential audience actively engaged in contributing content.

Let’s assume it takes 2 minutes to upload a video, so we can get through 720 cycles of uploads each day. Our (0.00046% of uploaders at any time) * (720 cycles of uploaders per day) = a per-day user upload engagement rate of 0.33%. You could play with this math further assuming faster upload rates equal a faster group upload cycle per second, so perhaps the engagement rate is 0.7%. You could also cut this number back by assuming some people are frequent uploaders, sharing more than one video a day, which would slash 0.7% to a fraction of engaged producers. I’ll be generous and leave it at 0.7%. However you count it, the world comprises more watchers than doers.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Originally posted on G+.

YouTube’s attention deficit disorder


About $59 billion is spent on television advertising in the U.S. each year, so it’s stunning to realize it’s all going into play. TV is changing in two fundamental ways — tablet-type devices now put enjoyable video streaming in your lap, and the next generation of TV sets is being built, finally, with connections that hook you into the Internet. This means that online video sites have a rare opportunity to smack cable companies and snag billions in ad dollars — if they can use the new gadgets or TV screen access to change consumers’ video behavior. About 2% of U.S. cable subscribers “cut the cord” in the past three years, and that may just be the beginning.

Alas, YouTube may have missed the lead in this new advertising landscape. Today YouTube.com is the top video web site in the U.S., with between 111 million or 130 million monthly uniques (comScore and Quantcast differ slightly in their reports). Yet the time spent on YouTube per user is a fraction of competitors’. ComScore reports the typical YouTube viewer spends 2 hours and 14 minutes a month watching its videos — about 15 minutes per day — while Hulu captures each user for 5 hours and Netflix for more than 9 hours and 15 minutes. People like YouTube, but only for video snacks, not for full-course entertainment meals.

Yes, YouTube is still growing — its audience is up 25% in the past 12 months — but it needs more time from its shallow users if it’s going to attract bigger advertising dollars. To help, Google, which owns YouTube, recently announced it will spend $100 million to build richer, longer, professional video content. YouTube also recently launched YouTube Live, a service meant to lure you in longer, although the initial content we found at youtube.com/live seems lackluster (tobacco education and cricket games, anyone?).

It won’t be easy. “We are not good at creating content,” Tom Pickett, director of content at YouTube, told Ad Age in March. The only way to get viewers to stay is to build content with a reason.

Ben Kunz is vice president of strategic planning at Mediassociates, an advertising media planning and buying agency, and co-founder of its digital trading desk eEffective.

Image: César Augusto Serna Sz

YouTube’s pay per unclick

YouTube has announced a rather counterintuitive ad model which encourages users to skip over ads. TrueView video ads play :15- or :30-second prerolls to YouTube’s video content; after 5 seconds, an icon appears inviting the user to skip the ad. Advertisers only pay if users don’t avoid the ad and instead watch the preroll to completion — call it “pay per unclick” — with the logic being marketers will reach consumers truly interested in the product.

The flaw, of course, is since this is entirely new, users may not understand the skip option immediately, so early advertisers may pay for people who aren’t interested but don’t know enough to avoid the ad. Still, we like it. If you do, please skip ahead.

Image: Mitchell Joyce

Planning media to differentiate response


Saneel Radia at BBH Labs suggests that media (defined for non-ad people as messaging conduits such as television, radio, print, online banners, etc.) should now be considered as important as advertising strategy or creative in influencing people. In a perfect example, he mentions music — and how the shift to iPods and digital formats and playlists has had enormous impact on how music itself is structured. The channels influence the idea within, just as paved highways have altered the designs of our vehicles.

This is not a new idea, of course; Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1964 that “the medium is the message,” with the channel format influencing how messages are perceived. Yet Saneel builds on this, suggesting that individual media channels should not only be evaluated for how they affect message, but be planned to influence differentiated response (what Saneel terms “experience”).

One trigger. 20 results.

Differentiated response? This seems confusing at first for marketers used to targeting A person with B message through C medium, akin to splitting a single strand of spaghetti at the ends, so let’s use skateboarding sneakers on YouTube as an illustration. A shoe brand such as Vans could reach its audience in many ways: passive viewers could watch a YouTube video featuring the sneaker, or users could forward the cool video to others, or manipulate a video, or even create their own user-generated content filming kids in the backyard in Vans leaping off ramps. Saneel calls this the 1:9:90 rule: “If 1% of the audience drives the experience, 9% participates, and 90% just consumes, wouldn’t a brand want to understand each stratum of people, and how the experience could fit them appropriately?” With the biggest trend in media now being concurrent media use, for instance, teens texting on mobile phones with a laptop on their knees reading Facebook while watching TV, consumers taking different response pathways is now part of life.

And therein is a disconnect. Marketers still often focus campaigns on singular objectives such as lead gen, sales, brand awareness, product launch, and then set up media strands pointed at each target and desired response. Customers, however, interpret brands in any way they want, and engage or react or respond in multiple pathways. Any single message in any individual media channel can push consumers in different directions.

The solution is simple: evaluate all the ways customers could respond from messages in each channel, which types of response provide value, and then restructure your medium-message accordingly. Product differentiation was a 1940s idea. Brand differentiation was a 1970s fad. Customer differentiation rose in the early 1990s. Today, it’s time to differentiate media response.

Image: Trey Ratcliff

Get me one of those viral things that lasts 6 days


Analytics shop TubeMogul points out the half-life of a YouTube video is now only 6 days, meaning in less than a week an online flick has burned through half its potential audience. After 20 days, any given video has pulled 75% of its total eyeballs. This isn’t great news for creative agencies focused on selling viral potential — and points out consumers’ ADHD is accelerating, since back in 2008 a YouTube audience lasted at least twice as long.

Don’t fret, though, viral promoters — newsprint and radio ain’t doing so hot, either.

Via Business Insider.

Facebook and self-filtering under the bedroom sheets


Tonight when you’re lying in bed with your lover/puppy dog/teddy bear and something truly intimate slips out of your mouth, say, “When I was a child I dreamed of changing the world and now that I’m making money sometimes I wonder if I’m missing the real opportunity to help others,” ask: Would you want that whisper broadcast on television during the Super Bowl?

Of course not. This is called media self-filtering, or the age-old habit of humans using different communication tools in different ways. This week we spoke at the Direct Marketing Association on how filtering is creating new challenges for advertisers, however, as more devices and portals give us greater self-filtering controls.

What is self-filtering? The graphic above shows how a typical consumer (me) “tiers” media from the most public space (mass media such as television or movies) to the most personal (under the bedroom sheets). Facebook is more intimate for me than Twitter, and Twitter is more intimate than email, and email more closed than the telephone. For each tool, I set up controls in terms of whom I connect with, who can access the stream, what I share inside it and what I choose to receive. You, and everyone else, does exactly the same.

War of the filters

All of which creates a pinch for marketers, because the inventory for their messages or advertising gets squeezed out with every additional filter layer. Consumers are demanding more self-filtering control even as some media outlets seek to take filters off, creating huge pressure on businesses pushing memes in the middle. This week YouTube tipped its hat to consumer privacy concerns by launching new “unlisted” video controls, where users can post films and no one else can see them unless they have the direct URL link. Most media networks, though, have been moving in the opposite direction. Facebook has gradually made openness its default setting — attracting the wrath of Congress, privacy experts and analysts such as Jason Calacanis. Matt McKeon, a developer at IBM Research’s Center for Social Software, has created a beautiful infographic of Facebook’s expanding openness / eroding privacy defaults over the past few years.

Here’s Facebook privacy back in 2005:


And here’s what Facebook defaults to in 2010:


Is this good or bad, beautiful or ugly? A Metcalfe student would suggest Facebook, like other networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Vimeo and your cell phone company with those deals to call friends for free, are opening their node connections to try to (a) increase the utility of the network for users while (b) collecting more data to support advertisers. Calacanis in his critique suggests publishers are nuts to plug in to Facebook Connect, which bases the personalization of YourSite.com on the preferences monitored by Facebook. “If you’re stupid enough to give up your customer database to Facebook, (Mark Zuckerberg) will pay you back by screwing over your user’s privacy!,” Calacanis shouts.

That is one harsh viewpoint. The alternative reality is simpler: Social networks, like businesses, are doing what corporate entities have always done — recognizing that customers are their most important asset and working hard to expand the data they can collect and manage on that asset. We suggested in our DMA speech that if Charlene Li is right, and social media does someday become like air, the connected nodes of humanity will form an aggregate data set more valuable than the current financial information that provides FICO scores or product-purchase observations that build mailing lists. Someone, somewhere will find a way to aggregate this information and use it for marketing purposes, because a society based on pleasure from consumption has a demand for better, more personalized products and services. It will be a bumpy road to get there, because just as consumers long for shiny objects, they fear outsiders peering into their souls. We want leather jackets but hate to measure our waists. The good news is now you can record your fears on film and post it quietly and privately to YouTube; just be careful about mentioning it in your Facebook News Feed.

Via Make the Logo Bigger, @darrylohrt, and a homework assignment from The Beancast.

No, your video won’t go viral

Mike Arauz and Bud Caddell spoke at SXSW on why most online videos fail to scale, and engaged their audience in a “Web Video Thunderdome” to debate why. They suggest: Be brief. Be odd. Be funny. Be random. Try repeatedly. And recognize that even if you get all that right, in the online sea of wavering interest, you’ll still likely get only 100 hits.

Via Marci Ikeler.

31,594,000 ways to avoid your content portal


Facebook became the third most popular venue for watching online video in October, signaling the end of content portals. In our age of a million channels where making choices is difficult, the recommendations of our peers are becoming the new TV Guide.

What do we mean? There are three ways that content is distributed: First, producers can push — say, NBC’s old Seinfeld appointment television viewing on Thursday nights in the 1990s. Second, users can search — Google’s rise in the early part of this decade, and more recently the popular YouTube engine that allows you to find funny cat videos. But the third wave is when people you trust do the finding for you.

Here’s a test: Think of all the content your business puts out that you want people to see — your web site, your press releases, videos, ads and marketing communications. Now, add up all the ways you enable others to share your content with their networks of people. Is the sum more than zero?

Homophily at prime time

Human networks amplify the dynamic of “homophily,” the tendency of people you like to enjoy the same things you do. This is why people in cliques tend to wear the same clothes, watch the same movies, discuss the same politics, and now … share the same content. We trust our friends and loved ones. When they share something, we want to watch.

The strategic lesson for marketers is if you want your message to go viral, you have to find ways to entice networks of users to share it with others. For example, Facebook is no Hulu or YouTube yet, but the numbers for video access there are rising. In October 31.5 million unique users watched videos posted inside the social network, vs. 13.4 million on Hulu (the leading site for professional video content) and 105 million in YouTube (top site for user-generated video).

The “sticky” portal strategy of the 1990s is dying a deserved egocentric death. The center will not hold because you are no longer the center. You have to find ways to pass it along.

YouTube XL heads for big TVs (and a $76 billion ad market)


Ever wonder why you can’t get the internet on your TV set? Technologists will explain that humans have three distance fields for receiving communication — intimate, the phone in your hand; personal, the 24 inches between you and a laptop screen; and communal, the 10 feet between you and your big TV set in the basement. It all goes back to ancient communications — intimate whispers, personal face to face, and community displays around a campfire — and because the internet fits into the personal distance and TV is the campfire tribal entertainment, well, the two won’t marry.

Or it could be cash. Broadcast television takes in nearly $50 billion a year in ad revenue, and cable another $26 billion — so a $76 billion entertainment industry isn’t very interested in risking it all to let you get free internet videos over your television set.

YouTube is shaking that up in a big way. It announced this week a YouTube XL service to easily provide sharp video in large-screen formats, with a simple hookup from your computer to your television monitor. Greg Sandoval at CNET has a fine review of the service.

Our bet? Google has its eyes on some of that $76 billion in big-screen advertising.

BooneOakley gives it up to YouTube

Here’s a web strategy: Get rid of your web site and instead create content users can pass along to others. David Armano suggested this a few days ago, and now ad shop BooneOakley has gone and ditched their site in favor of a YouTube video. It’s an interesting move, recognizing that online users are growing more comfortable watching video, getting a snippet they want, and then tossing it to friends or colleagues.

After all, we can’t embed another agency’s web site into our own agency’s blog, but dammit if we haven’t stuck BooneOakley in here. Clever. Via Darryl Ohrt.