For those new to online video, analytics reports are a blessing and a curse. Sure, it’s great that your hosting service gives you detailed numbers about your videos’ performance, but trying to decode all those digits can make your eyes ache.
To help you make sense of your reports, we went to the absolute top. Content delivery network Akamai is known for the quality of its analytics reports, and Corey Halverson, Akamai’s product line director for media analytics, is the guy who makes sure all the numbers add up. Halverson was happy to sit down with us and explain analytics basics for OnlineVideo.net readers.
The Proper Framework
Analytics can be overwhelming. Halverson knows that. Columns of numbers are intimidating. But making sense of it all is a lot simpler if you have a framework for viewing the data, he says.
Keep in mind that the report exists to answer your questions. Before you look at it, decide what you want to know. Don’t just glance at it and read the numbers that it’s trying to tell you; search out the results that matter to you. For online video, you might want to know which videos are the most popular, or how many ads you’re showing.
There are two reasons to dig into your data, says Halverson. The first is technical: you want to understand how well your video is being delivered. If viewers are having trouble streaming your clips, you’ll see that in your analytics reports.
The second reason is to measure your audience engagement. How many videos are your viewers watching? Where are your viewers located? Are different videos popular in different parts of the country? You want to understand what viewers your attracting.
Finally, think about your goals, advises Halverson. Are you trying to educate viewers? Serve ads? Consider what you’re trying to achieve before digging into the report.
Dissecting the Data
Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to attack the analytics. Here is Halverson’s list of the most important numbers for online video publishers:
- The overall number of viewers
- The number of viewers by time and location
- Unique viewers by time and location
(Compare this number to total views by time and location. If your unique views are low but your total views are high, that shows that you’re getting a lot of repeat viewers.)
- The most viewed videos
- The least viewed videos
- The most viewed category of videos
- The least viewed category of videos
- The average time spent watching per viewer
- The completion rate per video
- The video completion rate by category
What you’re trying to understand, Halverson says, is the relationship between your videos and your viewers, between content and audience. Use the reports to learn what’s popular in your video library and who your viewers are. You can then use that knowledge to make decisions in the future.
Check back next month, when Corey Halverson will explain A/B testing, showing how you can use it to improve your site’s performance.