What counts as a view on YouTube?

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Every wonder exactly what counts as a view on YouTube? Here's a quick explanation.

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What counts as a view on YouTube?

  1. 1. JOINVAN.COM What counts as a view on YouTube? Helping understand how YouTube views count
  2. 2. INTRO This document won’t focus (too much) on specific technical issues around what will or won’t count as a view on YouTube. Rules like this can change at any moment - there are whole teams of staff at Google dedicated to tweaking systems like this, so even if we could give a specific set of rules down then there is a good chance those rules would have changed within a week, if not within a day. Beware of anyone giving hard and fast rules about “X seconds watched counts as a view”, or “People sent to this url will count” - even if any of these are true at a specific moment, then as soon as it starts being abused the rules will change very quickly. Instead, this document will explain what kind of real world views fit into YouTube’s general view of “what a view is”, and which don’t.
  3. 3. A BIT OF BACKGROUND... Google bought YouTube in 2006 - barely a year after YouTube launched. As a result, you need to “think Googly” to understand view counts. Google's corporate background is based around PPC advertising (Adwords etc.), and direct response marketing. Much of the current video budget is coming from a different perspective - that of Branding, Television Commercials, Billboards and Flyers. In PPC advertising, there is the well-known concept of “Invalid Clicks” (popularly known as "Click Fraud", although only a proportion are knowingly fraudulent). Click Fraud: "when a person ... [clicks / watches] an ad ... without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link" (wikipedia) Compare to a traditional television commercial: if a television ad is shown to 300K people, have all of them had actual interest in the target of the ad? (discuss . . .)
  4. 4. SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS A VIDEO VIEW? From the perspectives above, we have two different ideas of what the video view count is: • It reflects the number of people who are interested in the video. • The reach of an ad campaign (organic, through bought spend, or otherwise) Both of these are valid viewpoints - but they are very different. Let’s see which aligns with YouTube’s beliefs best: "Video view counts reflect the YouTube community's interests and the grassroots popularity of videos" Video displayed TV way of thinking Video noticed by viewer Video actively watched by viewer User engaged with content YouTube Community Manager - http://youtube-global.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/updateon-our-view-counts.html Google’s advertising background is mainly in direct response marketing, and measuring the value of each kind of interaction. The diagram on the right gives an overview of the this value chain. >> User engaged with brand YouTube way of thinking
  5. 5. DIFFERENT WAYS OF VIEWING A VIDEO There are many different ways in which a user can view a video, and much of how YouTube thinks about view count is based around the different use-cases, linked to their underlying principles (explained in the previous slides). The next section of this document explains different video viewing scenarios, and the likelihood of the video being counted as a view on YouTube. The different viewing scenarios include: • • • • • A user watches a video on YouTube.com A user on a 3rd party blog / website clicks on an embedded YouTube video A user watches an auto-playing video A user watches a pre-roll video A video is played outside of the YouTube player (a technical point)
  6. 6. EXAMPLE USER CASES 1) A user on YouTube.com or mobile apps who sees the video description under related videos and decides to watch the video. “Has a real user made a conscious decision that they are interested in watching this content now?” At this point a user has actively chosen to engage with the video - so clearly this should count as a view (unless the video description was deceptive and didn’t reflect the video correctly). 2) A user on another website, blog, or social network who clicks to view the video on YouTube. “Has a real user made a conscious decision that they are interested in watching this content now?” Again, the user has chosen to watch this video and clicked on a link to it - so (assuming the link was accurate and the user knew they were going to watch a video) this view should be counted.
  7. 7. EXAMPLE USER CASES 3) An auto-playing video “Has a real user made a conscious decision that they are interested in watching this content now?” If the video has started playing automatically, then there is no sign to YouTube that the viewer actually chose to watch this video - so you shouldn’t expect the views to count. NB: This behaviour is explicitly and officially documented - if an embedded video player is started without a user clicking on it to play it then it will not count. Technicalities: • Facebook.com (and some other sites) don’t embed the YouTube player normally - instead they show a screenshot of the video, and when the user clicks on it the screenshot is replaced by an auto-playing video. • It is worth considering Google’s “TrueView” ads here (which are discussed in the next slide), as these play automatically.
  8. 8. EXAMPLE USER CASES 4) Pre-roll video views - where a user has to watch a video before accessing another video, game or service (like free wifi at an airport). “Has a real user made a conscious decision that they are interested in watching this content now?” The answer here is open and dependent on whether the user chooses to watch the content (i.e. not autoplay) and how well these placements are managed - e.g. how many times does each ad get displayed to an individual user? From our own experience roughly 80% of views from pre-roll style views are counted, which if controlled can be factored into a campaign model (if your overall aim is focused around YouTube view count). Again, there are technicalities here we won’t get into. Interestingly Google sell “TrueView” pre-roll video ads as part of their YouTube sales package and anecdotally (from analysing campaigns we’ve been involved with) not all views are counted on YouTube that are delivered via TrueView - which is in line with the analysis of this document.
  9. 9. EXAMPLE USER CASES 5) Playing the YouTube video stream outside of a YouTube player (Technical) YouTube’s Terms of Service state: “you agree not to access Content through any technology or means other than the video playback pages of the Website itself, the YouTube Player, or such other means as YouTube may explicitly designate for this purpose” This would normally not be an issue so long as you use the embedded YouTube player. - except: • Microsoft’s “official” YouTube app for Windows phones does not use the official player (There are ongoing disputes between Google and YouTube on this at the time of writing) - so unless you are using the official YouTube <iframe> embed carefully then no windows phone playbacks will count. • Some iPhone playbacks have similar issues - if you use the (old) <embed> player then some views won’t be counted in the same way as iOS takes over from YouTube. The <iframe> embed is the supported method. • Some older internet connected TVs and media devices do not use supported players, and views may not always be counted.
  10. 10. ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: CUSTOM PLAYER OVERLAYS Beyond the “view environment” of a video, another key factor that YouTube takes into account is the environment of the YouTube video player itself. An example of a good custom YouTube player In particular customised “overlays” on top of the YouTube player are viewed badly by Google as this firmly breaks their terms and conditions as overlays can prevent their player functioning correctly. Not all custom YouTube gadgets break YouTube’s terms and conditions, for example Viral Ad Network use a simple but effective YouTube player that customises content around the player - rather than over the video itself. (see example on the right) Customised area around the YouTube video, not over it - therefore not breaking YouTube’s T&C’s
  11. 11. TOP TIPS The following are some quick tips to make sure you maximise views on YouTube: • • • Make sure that everyone involved in a campaign has the same understanding of what you mean by “view count” - does it mean engaged views, or the number of times the video has shown? If you want views to be shown on YouTube, ask yourself the question “Has a real user made a conscious decision that they are interested in watching this content now?” Judge what the value is if you’re doing a media buy - and don’t trust “get rich quick” style schemes (e.g. “boost your youtube view count!”) which might not share the same definition of a video view: • A user who sees a video, decides to watch it, and gets fully engaged should (logically) be about the same price as a CPC user - from a minimum around £0.10 to several pounds per view depending on how narrowly targeted the user is. • A video playback where the user hasn’t engaged at all, is a video display - and should (logically) be the same price as a video display buy: around the £20 CPM range (i.e. a couple of pennies per view).
  12. 12. KEY REFERENCE MATERIALS And finally, here’s some links to various YouTube sources for reference: • • • Read, understand, and follow the YouTube Terms of Service (http://www.youtube.com/static? gl=GB&template=terms) Read, understand and follow the YouTube Developer Terms of Service (these apply to embedded videos) (https://developers.google.com/youtube/terms) Read, understand, and follow the YouTube Community Guidelines (http://www.youtube.com/t/ community_guidelines)
  13. 13. A BIT MORE ABOUT VAN VAN is a social video platform, providing technology and services to agencies and brands to create awesome shareable video. Our platform is used by leading agencies and brands across the world, and was created by the founders of award-winning viral agency Rubber Republic. To find out more about VAN’s work, read this Forbes review, visit www.JoinVAN.com, or try one of our products: #KITTENCAMP VIRAL AD NETWORK TUBERANK We offer a range of tools to help individuals and teams learn the art of social video. Our regular #KittenCamp events, agency training workshops & online tutorials can help you build your knowledge (and have a LOL too). Our TubeRank app provides a model to help you plan a successful (and shareable) social video. VAN also provides insight in the form of trend analysis and benchmarking data for specific online communities / verticals. Book your ticket for our next event Explore TubeRank CREATORS NETWORK VIRAL AD NETWORK We provide a platform for the commissioning of social video with VAN’s Creator Network. The network consists of a selection of handpicked video producers, YouTubers and web publishers; and allows a range of social video collaboration. Our Viral Ad Network can ensure your video gets the coverage it needs. We offer guaranteed views across our network of over 5,000 publishers. We can also offer advertorial placements & other bespoke publisher partnership solutions. Distribute your next video with VAN
  14. 14. WWW.JOINVAN.COM // @JOINVAN

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