Measuring the Expanding Video Data Universe
The cable industry has tried to measure viewer engagement with set-up boxes "that would phone home," said Visible Measures CTO Chris Meisl, "but for the most part, like Nielsen, it's panel-based. On the Internet, you can be more census-based. You can measure every single video, which we do. So we now know about over half a billion videos and we've measured over 3 trillion video events."
11/04/13 5:00 AM PT
Visible Measures measures via a massive analytics capability an ocean of video at some impressively high scales.
By creating very deep census data of everything that's happened in the video space, Visible Measures uses unique statistical processes to figure out exactly what patterns emerge within video usage at high speed and massive scale and granularity.
Listen to the podcast (13:43 minutes).
Here are some excerpts:
Dana Gardner: Tell us a little bit about video metrics. It seems that this is pretty straightforward, isn't it? You just measure the number of downloads and you know how many people are watching a video -- or is there more to it?
Chris Meisl: You'd think it would be that straightforward. Video is probably the fastest-growing component of the Internet right now. Video consumption is accelerating unbelievably. When you measure a video, not only you are looking at did someone view the video, but how far they are into the video. Did they rewind it, stop it, or replay certain parts? What happened at the end? Did they share it?
There are all kinds of events that can happen around a video. It's not like in the display advertising business, where you have an impression and you have a click. With video, you have all kinds of interactions that happen.
You can really measure engagement in terms of how much people have actually watched the video, and how they've interacted with a video while it's playing.
Gardner: This is an additional level of insight beyond what happened traditionally with television, where you need a Nielsen box or some other crude, if I could use that term, way of measuring. This is much more granular and precise.
Meisl: Exactly. The cable industry tried to do this on various occasions with various set-up boxes that would phone home with various information -- but for the most part, like Nielsen, it's panel-based. On the Internet, you can be more census-based. You can measure every single video, which we do. So we now know about over half a billion videos and we've measured over 3 trillion video events.
Because you have this very deep census data of everything that's happened, you can use standard and interesting statistical processes to figure out exactly what's happening in that space, without having to extend a relatively small panel. You know what everyone is doing.
Gardner: And of course, this extends not only to programming or entertainment level of video, but also to the advertising videos that would be embedded or precede or follow from those. Right?
Meisl: Exactly. Advertising and video are interesting, because it's not just standard television-style advertising. In standard television advertising, there are 30-second spots that are translated into the Internet space as pre-roll, post-roll, mid-roll, or what have you. You're watching the content that you really want to watch, and then you get interrupted by these ads. This is something that we at Visible Measures didn't like very much.
We're promoting this idea of content marketing through video, and content marketing is a very well-established area. We're trying to encourage brands to use those kinds of techniques using the video medium.
That means that brands will tell more extensive stories in maybe three- to five-minute video segments that might be episodic. And we then deliver that across thousands of publishers -- measure the engagement, measure the brand-lift, and measure how well those kinds of video-storytelling features really help the brand to build up the trust that they want with their customers in order to get the premium pricing that that brand has over something much more generic.
Gardner: Of course, the key word there was measures. In order to measure, you have to capture, store and analyze. Tell us a little bit about the challenges that you faced in doing that at this scale with this level of requirements. It sounds as if even the real-time elements of being able to feed back that information to the ad servers is important, too.
Meisl: Right. The first part that you have to do is have a really comprehensive understanding of what's going on in the video space.
Visible Measure started with measuring all video that's out there. Everywhere we can, we work with publishers to instrument their video players so that we get signals while people are watching videos on their site.
For the publishers that don't want to allow us to instrument their players, then we can use more traditional Google spidering techniques to capture information on the view count, comment count, and things like that. We do that on a regular basis, a few times a day or at least once a day, and then we can build up metrics on how the video is growing on those sites.