...with analysis & insight...
Online video is a new phenomenon that many consumers have only recently added to their
repertoire of media consumption and it is interesting to see how, if at all, this viewing behaviour
differs from viewing video on other platforms such as cable, satellite or conventional broadcasts.
To quantify this behaviour, this chart uses data from the Quarterly Research Report published by
Brightcove and TubeMogul. Brightcove serves video for over 10,000 different websites in 48
different countries. TubeMogul is an online video analytics and distribution company with over
200,000 customers. In the absence of any YouTube aggregate data this is the best public source
available about how global online video is being consumed. On examining the data one is
immediately struck by the notable brevity of the average video viewing experience.
To create this chart, I extracted the most recent data from the first two quarters of 2010 from the
Quarterly Research Report and added the two quarters together in order to use the maximum
amount of data obtainable. Adding the two quarters (January to June) together also removes as
much of the seasonality affect as possible enabling me to see the overall trends. So what does this
data tell us?
Completion viewing rates for online video hover around the 38% mark. This means that for a clear
majority (62%) of online videos that begin to get played, the end of the video is never seen. This
trend rises to 72% for Music Videos. Videos for Online Media achieve the best completion rate at
42%. But even if the video has been specifically designed for Online Media, and is not repurposed
Broadcast content, that still means that well over half (58%) of all the videos which start to be
viewed, never get seen through to completion.
Apart from Broadcaster websites, the lesson here for Online Video Producers is that you have less
than 90 seconds to communicate your story and the majority of your audience will not see the
latter part of what you produce. The very nature of the Web means that a hypertext-audience is
continually moving on. Faced with what seems to be an infinite amount of content, the audience
will only give you a fraction of time to engage them before they click away. Even top quality
Broadcaster content, with high production standards, only gets an average of 178 seconds of
attention per video – a figure that is just 50% better than the average for all categories. If this
analysis leads to what appears to be a pretty tough brief for an online video producer, then
consider the recent UK data from the 3rd Ipsos MediaCT Touchpoints survey for the IPA (Institute
of Practitioners in Advertising) which shows that 75% of adults employ at least two types of media
in any given half-hourly period. In short, not only is the amount of engagement you have with the
audience extremely brief, most of them will be doing something else at the same time.
For an erudite explanation of the psychology behind this phenomenon I suggest reading the book
The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. The term “Snippet” in the title of this chart comes from
programming where it is the name for a small section of reusable code. Google uses the term in
the context of digitising the world’s information and serving it up in “snippets” with ads attached.