Earlier this year, we shared The 5 Biggest Video Marketing Predictions for 2016. Number 2 on that list declared that in 2016 marketers will care less about “views”, finding greater value in metrics like click-through, engagement and actions taken after a view.
While view count may no longer be the prize metric of video marketing, it won’t disappear entirely. Views continue to be a measure of a video’s reach and popularity. So, for now, let’s look at “views” and dive in to see how views are defined and counted by major video and social platforms.
First things first…
The Media Rating Council and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) define a video ad as viewable when “at least 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible on a screen for at least 2 consecutive seconds.” Each hosting or social media company will additionally set their own rules, algorithms and processes to quantify a view, and validate the nature of views (ensure they’re from humans and not computer programs). It’s important to note that these rules and processes may differ for general video uploads vs. video Ads.
YouTube is a leading resource for hosting, sharing and promoting videos, as well as placing video Ads. For general videos, the exact rules of what constitutes a view are not fully specified. This helps discourage users from artificially inflating view count.
Basically, a view is when a human has initiated video play and watched the video for a select amount of time. Some believe this ‘select amount of time’ to range from 10-30 seconds, and others suspect it’s a percentage based on the full length of the video. YouTube Ads, on the other hand, must be viewed for about 30 seconds to count as a view.
Facebook video ads auto-play without audio as a user scrolls through their feed. This makes measuring the intentional act of viewing a bit tricky. So, how are these views quantified? Facebook’s views are counted at 3 seconds, but Facebook’s analytics will also give you a count of views that were longer than 30 seconds.
Instagram allows videos up to 15 seconds (up to 30 seconds for Ads). Instagram is owned by Facebook and, like Facebook, views are also counted after 3 seconds of viewing. While Instagram videos play in a loop, the counts won’t stack up; views are counted by ‘unique users’.
Twitter also counts a view at 3 seconds. In addition to this rule, Twitter also stipulates that the video pixels must be 100% in-view on a user’s device for the minimum of 3 seconds. This helps ensure that a user that is slowly scrolling past an auto-play video isn’t inadvertently counted as a view.
Vine is owned by Twitter, and is comprised solely of 6-second long looped videos. A view on vine is when a user watches an entire video.
Vimeo states that a view is counted when someone actually initiates play. Just like YouTube and other sites, the platform uses tracking efforts to validate unique-users hitting play within a span of time. This minimizes the duplication of views from the same user within a that timeframe.
Other OVP’s (Online Video Platforms)
In addition to the sites listed above, there are of course many other OVP’s that allow you to monitor engagement analytics. With many of those programs a view is simply counted when the video is played. Frequently the IPs of individual users are tracked to quantify unique views.
Concern about view count can differ with regard to where and how a video is being used. The cost of placing a Video Ad, for example, may be calculated based on views. And if you’re a big brand with a popular YouTube video those views can help you gain added exposure.
On the flipside, if you are using an OVP to host and evaluate videos used on your website or in email campaigns, your views will be dictated by inbound visits to your video or direct shares via email or website interaction. In that case, engagement and commerce-driving actions start to matter more than the counted view.