metrics for brand videosThe use of video for PR and marketing, especially video in digital distribution channels, has grown rapidly in recent years. To be precise, 82 percent of B2C marketers and 79 percent of B2B marketers now include video in their content marketing programs, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Yet far fewer are pleased with marketing outcomes video produces. Only 59 percent of B2C marketers and 62 percent of B2C marketers rate videos as an effective content marketing tactic.

A website-centric view accounts for the shortfall in satisfaction, argues Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of the content marketing agency SEO-PR. They typically obtain their metrics from Google Analytics or a few other similar web analytics services rather than YouTube Analytics. Those web analytics indicate that social media videos — even videos on YouTube, the grand-daddy of video sites — generate only small number of visitors and conversions.

That’s because Google Analytics only tracks people who’ve clicked on a link in a video’s description or an associated website card, Jarboe explains in a Tubular Insights blog post. It doesn’t track people who visit your YouTube channel then visit your website 30 to 90 days later.

“So, go ahead, try explaining that to your executives or clients,” he says. “And, then try to justify why they should give you a bigger share of the marketing budget to release video content frequently on a recurring schedule and maintain activity on their YouTube channel despite the fact that it will be hard to track the direct impact of these efforts on website traffic, leads, or sales. This is the elephant in the room.”

Moving Beyond Video Views

An over-reliance on view counts accounts for much of the uncertainty and inaccuracy about the effectiveness of video marketing. Views are probably the most popular video metric. However, counting views presents substantial disadvantages. The metric lacks a quantifiable value as well as a standard definition. View count doesn’t tell you about your audience demographics, and doesn’t indicate if viewers like your videos. Many view counts also don’t account for the length of viewing time.

These are some metrics video experts recommend to improve video marketing measurement.

Watch time is how long viewers watch the video. Studies show a consistent relationship between how long a PR, marketing or education video ad is viewed and increases in brand awareness and consideration, Jarboe says in the linkdex blog.

Viewers. If viewers provide email addresses, you can track what videos they watch, says Kristen Craft of Wistia in her article for Harvard Business Review. You can segment those viewers and invite them to view other content that matches their interests. Knowing what they watch provides information that sales can use to target pitches.

Average engagement measures the proportion of the video that viewers watch on average. Ideally, of course, viewers watch the entire video. Analytics can show sections of videos that viewers are rewatching, indicating the type of material viewers prefer. Points at which viewers often stop viewing can indicate weak points in the video that can be improved.

Play rate is the percentage of people who click on the video divided by the total number of the visitors to the web page where the video resides. A low play rate means you might need to re-evaluate the video’s title, description, thumbnail graphic, or the video’s position on the page. Play rates exceeding 50 percent are considered successful.

Action completions. By watching the number of visitors who complete calls to action, you can see what videos are succeeding. By A/B testing action completions for various website page locations or for promotional copy, you can test what page locations or copy work best. Caution: you can only A/B test one variable at a time.

Consumer attitudes. Website surveys can provide valuable information about consumers’ attitudes and behaviors. Google Consumer Surveys allow website managers to ask visitors four default questions for free and more for additional costs, Jarboe notes.

Subscribers. More subscribers to a YouTube channel naturally lead to more viewers and more total minutes watched, says Dan Nedelko, founder of HoneySpot Marketing, in a blog post for Vidyard. When a viewer subscribes to your channel, they receive automatic updates when you upload videos, and subscribers tend to watch videos longer.

Comments and social shares. Comments and social shares mean you’re creating the right content. The sharer’s credibility spreads to you, and extensive commenting can lead to an ad hoc community centered on your site.

Bottom Line: Although video can be a powerful marketing and public relation strategy, many marketers are unsatisfied or unsure of its effectiveness. Video views, the prevailing metric, are a vanity metric that doesn’t indicate if your videos are effectively promoting your company. Instead, marketers suggest tracking more telling metrics to improve video marketing strategies.