In what it claims is a first for a service of its kind, online video tracking and measurement firm Visible Measures this morning announced it has been accredited by media industry ratings watchdog the Media Rating Council for a range of its core video metrics products.
The accreditation, which follows an extensive audit of Visible Measures systems by the MRC, took nearly a year to complete, and is an important stamp of approval in what is becoming an increasingly crowded field of video and social media metrics and analytics firms.
While MRC accreditation doesn’t guarantee that ratings service will be used as a “marketplace currency” the way Nielsen’s ratings are used for buying TV advertising, it at least gives the users of the data the peace of mind that the service is doing what it says it can do.
“It’s not any kind of approval for being used in the market,” acknowledges Brian Shin, the founder and CEO of Visible Measures, noting: “It’s really just saying our metrics have been audited and accredited. It’s really up to us, working with major marketers and brand publishers, to decide what to do with it.”
What Shin plans to do with it is use it to generate awareness that Visible Measure’s methods for tracking brand exposure across the entire spectrum of online video – including so-called “owned, earned and paid” impressions – actually work.
Among other things, the MRC accredited Visible Measures’ True Reach platform, which tracks, measures and assigns values for the exposure a brand reaps regardless of what part of the online video spectrum it comes from, including conventional advertising (pre-roll and in-banner video), branded content, or even user-generated content about the brand.
Shin acknowledges that those lines sometimes get blurry, such as consumers remixing a brand’s original content into a user-generated mash-up version, which could actually have a higher or a lower value for a brand depending on how it is executed and distributed.
“If you’re a Procter & Gamble, you’re not just trying to measure that one video that you uploaded. It’s really all of the above,” says Shin, noting that marketers may be able to trigger online viewing behavior – and even sharing – with their own content, but they cannot control it. They can only measure its effects, how it gets passed along, shared, changed, and consumed in the process.
“The original mandate was to measure and track all video,” Shin explains. “What we were seeing was the lines between what is branded entertainment and user-generated content is blurred, and increasingly so. We’re pretty close close partners with YouTube, and even they struggle to define the barriers between, essentially, everything.
“What we have learned is consumers are in control of this distributed content, and marketers need to understand and measure that.”
In fact, Shin notes that new genres of blurring brand content are emerging online, such as the so-called “unpacking and hauling” behavior in which consumers are so in love with the brands and products they buy that they film themselves unpacking the haul of goods they bought while shopping and post it on YouTube or Facebook.
At the same time, Shin says the volume of brand-generated video content has “exploded” and that most of the biggest marketers now have “entire divisions” responsible for creating and distributing video online.
“In the last year alone, the viewership of social video or branded entertainment from marketers has gone up over 300%. In 2011, there were 5.6 billion video views of branded entertainment,” Shin says citing a Visible Measures stat that isn’t just a big number, it’s now also an accredited one.