Sept. 13, 2017 by Sara Jabbari
Understand Your Audience to Create Better Content
We keep hearing about a “pivot to video” because it is increasingly topping publishers’ priorities for 2017. While there are best practices to follow when creating video content for your site, your audience will inevitably differ from the next one. Thus, understanding your viewers, such as their consumption behaviors and preferences, is crucial when navigating your video strategy. After all, publishers work hard to create content that engages and inspires their audience, so what good is video content that doesn't resonate with the viewers it was made for?
Here we outline five important questions that every publisher should ask themselves in order to understand their viewers better:
1. Which videos, or category of videos do my viewers like best?
Knowing which videos perform best with your viewers gives you insight into which ones you should produce more of. The performance of your videos can be measured by their view counts as well as their completion rates. While the view count can be a good indication of how many people your video reached, it is not sufficient to suggest that the video performed well with viewers, especially if the video is auto-play. This is why knowing the watch time, or the completion rate, is useful in understanding if the video was able to truly engage consumers.
Top Videos, with views and completion
In addition to the performance of specific videos, it is also beneficial to know which categories of videos are most popular with your users. While most publishers group their videos within a video section, these videos are usually tagged to a specific category, be it “music,” “sports,” ‘fashion,” etc. It is very possible that your viewers watch videos in one category more than another, but if your video inventory in that category is low, you are missing out on potential viewership, engagement and revenue. Thus, by calculating the profitability of categories via the average number of video views per category, you can understand which video content you should focus production on, leaving your viewers with more content they will likely engage with, and you with more monetizable demand from advertisers.
This brings us to our next question:
2. Do my viewers watch pre-roll ads before the videos?
Content owners place pre-roll ads before videos because it is their primary source of monetization. However, user experience is intrinsic to the success of your videos, and thus your reputation as a media channel. Ads must therefore not hinder user experience to the extent that your viewers leave your site, or adopt an ad blocker. Publishers should measure how many ad plays there were in relation to total video views in order to calculate the fill-rate. If this percentage is too high, it may affect your viewer’s willingness to return to your site, reducing the number of video views, and of course, fans of your site.
Ad plays vs. total views
When it comes to both ad views and video views, it is also crucial to know where that traffic is coming from:
3. Are my viewers watching on desktop or mobile?
This question carries a lot more weight today than in previous years, as video consumption moves from desktop to mobile. As viewers consume content on more than one device, it is necessary that the videos on your site are designed for all types of devices, which may mean optimizing for length, sound, captions and orientation of the videos. These decisions can affect how much time a user spends consuming a video on your site, as well as how many videos they watch per session, two other important metrics publishers must track.
Traffic by device
4. How much of the videos do my viewers watch?
As previously stated, the average video completion rate is a good measure of how well your video was able to engage your viewers. The completion rate of your videos can inevitably vary based on the duration of the video. If a video is too long, the likelihood that the viewer sticks around until the end of it is lower, however, publishers can often observe that the average completion reaches a plateau for a range of video lengths, but then increases again after a certain point. Knowing the drop-off in engagement and how your audience reacts to your videos based on their duration tells you the right length for which you should make your videos, saving you time and money. Same goes for the pre-roll ad that may precede the video content - a long pre-roll may cause your viewer to leave before getting to the actual content they wanted to see. The length of the ad should complement the length of the video, but in order to minimize the risk that a user leaves, a simple rule of thumb is the shorter the video ad, the better.
Completion of video, by duration
5. How many videos do my viewers watch per session?
If a user comes to your site and ends up watching a video, you can give yourself a little pat on the back. If a user instead watches a number of videos on your site, you are becoming a video guru. The average views per user session typically depends on two things: whether there was content recommended during or after the original video, and whether that recommended content was personalized so as to increase the likelihood that the user clicked on it. This is where the power of AI comes in. Similar to social media, user engagement is largely determined by the personalization we receive. It is safe to say that users of YouTube don’t leave the platform after watching just one video, and the same can happen on publishers’ own websites. Recommending the right content to the right user will entice them to watch additional videos, improving video viewership, engagement and an overall positive experience for your user. In addition to the video, matching the ads with your audience is a good step towards delivering tailored experiences to your users. When it comes to finding the right “recommended for you” or “up-next” video, this will depend on the algorithm that supports your recommendation system, but that’s a story for another time…
Natural views vs. additional views
When it comes to video, our motto has always been “make something viewers want,” and with the right data and behavioral analytics, we show how it is possible for publishers to turn those actionable insights into meaningful results.