Online Video Marketing: Why View Counts Don't Matter

A few posts back, I proposed, "If the message is the story, then video is the conversation piece." Brands, businesses, marketing professionals and agencies have a tendency to get caught up in the number of views a video gets, and not see the bigger picture. You know -- that picture that has the sales graph pointing upward and all the smiling executives eating Danishes at the conference table and laughing? Life is good when they're laughing.

Some online video and social media marketing campaigns are launched to build awareness of a product or service. As in the case of video games that haven't been released yet, the videos and surrounding conversation are intended to build hype for the game, and will be followed up with new videos and marketing initiatives as the game becomes available in stores or for download. Other video and social media campaigns have shorter-term goals, as is the case with limited time promotions and brand new products. The window for a call-to-action is compressed, and the marketing is typically more aggressive.

What both approaches have in common is that they are designed to get people talking and increase sales. That's it. We can talk all day about soft measurements and hard measurements and click-through rates, comments, discussion, awareness and views, but the question that will ultimately determine each campaign's success or failure is, "How much stuff did we sell?"

The value of conversation

250K views on a video indicate that, at the very most, 250K people watched at least part of that video. What the view count alone doesn't tell you is:

• How many places the video is being embedded on blogs, publications and social networking sites.

• How many places only a video thumbnail photo is being embedded on blogs, publications and social networking sites, along with a brief story.

• How many brand-message-related tweets, Facebook updates, Diggs are generated as a result of the video -- but don't contain a link to the video.

• The quality and reach of those sites, meaning how targeted they are demographically, how many visitors they command per month and how many eyeballs they reach by extension.

• The quality of each view and influence factor of each viewer.

• How many people were exposed to the product or service offer without ever viewing the video.

• How much discussion is being generated and consumed by people who will never see the video.

• The next action taken by anyone exposed to the message.

Video is the catalyst

Given the right viral marketing strategy, online video has the ability to spark conversation. Just as an engaging piece of art in a house will beg questions like "What is that?" "Where is it from?" or "I'm so sorry I just dropped it... how much did it cost?" -- a good video will inspire not only people who are in favor of the brand, product, service, topic, actors or video itself, but also those who are opposed -- often enthusiastically so. They're OK, too -- because haters give fans the opportunity to show their loyalty and support.

A current example

My agency developed and produced a spot for a client to announce a very time-specific special offer. The video is a branded entertainment / commercial hybrid featuring a reality celebrity and was produced as a stylized version of her show with a loose, TV commercial feel. PR and marketing efforts combined with the celebrity's existing audience served to get the brand's message posted and discussed on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, as well as on blogs and publications in multiple verticals -- including entertainment.

Many of the people who were made aware of the promotion and signed up for the offer may have never even seen the video, yet they were exposed to the surrounding conversation and followed the call to action as a direct extension of the video's influence.

4 comments about "Online Video Marketing: Why View Counts Don't Matter".
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  1. Eric Mathewson from WideOrbit, February 15, 2011 at 2:34 p.m.

    This blog post is one big stretch. Replace Video and insert Magazine article or TV Show or Newspaper Article and the Blog post has the same 'truths.'

    Just kinda silly to state that View counts don't matter. Why bother counting anything when you can surmize that a much larger audience than the view counts exists.

  2. Bruce May from Bizperity, February 15, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.

    Magazines, newspapers, and television commercials don’t have the ability to be passed directly through online media so I agree with you up to a point. I do think you overstate the case a bit. This is all true and wonderful when everything comes together but in your own example you had everything going for you including star power and probably a passionate following. Try getting results like that selling peanut butter or industrial lubricants.

  3. Jimm Fox from One Market Media, February 15, 2011 at 7:42 p.m.

    When you can purchase 100,000 YouTube views for about $600... you can make a pretty convincing argument that views really don't count for much.

    That said, the millions of views the t-Mobile virals have generated in their 'Life's for Sharing' (as an example) series have (IMHO) generated tremendous value for that brand.

  4. Tim Tevlin from Local G Advertising Ltd., February 16, 2011 at 9:09 a.m.

    Avid reader of your articles David and this is one of your finest. Everything you mentioned, social media spread of good video content and standard number of views included, will no doubt over time be measured by online marketers as standard practice. Very helpful material, thx. Tim

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