Late last week, WebTrends, the long-time player in web analytics, announced an important improvement in its video measurement capabilities. The company introduced a rich media plug-in that is compatible with most video formats (Flash, Silverlight, WMP, Real, etc.) providing customers with deeper understanding of users' behavior with video. I had a quick chat with Roger Corvill and Sean Browning at WebTrends to learn more.
Most everyone who has ever worked in any online business has likely had contact with WebTrends and other analytics packages like Omniture and Google Analytics. All of these provide valuable insight about site traffic, page usage, clickstream data, referring links and the like.
But the massive explosion of video has introduced new complexity in the analytics world because video is a new media type requiring unique measurement capabilities. Relevant video metrics include things like abandonment rates, rewind/resume behavior, and conversion rates on offers. As user engagement shifts to video, publishers require the same degree of insight as they've come to expect in the HTML world.
Roger and Sean said customers have been expressing these kinds of needs to them as they are urgently focused on how best to monetize their video efforts. This synchs with what I hear often from content executives; they're excited about the opportunity to be more data-driven in both their programming decisions and monetization strategies.
In ad-supported video alone, there are a bewildering array of ad formats and implementation models, with varying impacts on the user's experience. This is the crux of today's experimentation: which ad model results in optimal consumption and monetization. I think of these attributes mapped on an XY chart, with the goal to operate as far out to the right corner as possible (i.e. high consumption AND high monetization). But this can only happen with solid underlying measurement.
Until now, WebTrends customers had to customize in order to get deep video-related stats; now they will be available out of the box. One limitation, at least for now, is that WebTrends only measures video consumption on-site. That means that as video is virally spread though embedding, emailing and syndication WebTrends doesn't yet keep track. That's an important limitation given how viral video consumption is. This is a key feature that Visible Measures, a video analytics startup which I've written about previously, has focused on.
Still, just gaining greater insight about how visitors engage with on-site video is a great leap forward, and one which WebTrends customers will no doubt welcome.