The Missing Video Metric

waitI’d like to share an “a-ha” moment I recently had while viewing an online video.

As part of my job as a web analyst, I often do site audits.

This entails analyzing the web analytics data (usually Google Analytics, Omniture or WebTrends) in conjunction with viewing the site itself.

While the numbers tell the story of what happened, I try to figure out why it happened by also examining the site and it’s contents.

For example, a site might be tracking video views with data on how many people started viewing each video, how many people viewed at least half of the video and how many people saw the entire video.

In a scenario where there is a large drop-off from people starting to view the video to people viewing half of it, there are several factors which could account for the drop-off.

It could be content related (the video doesn’t hold the viewer’s interest) or it could be technical (the video was stuttering or took to long to start playing).

I’ll usually check the minimum bandwidth required to play the video smoothly to see if I think it’s a load time issue, but that’s just circumstantial evidence.

Today, while viewing a video that was constantly buffering (and annoying to watch) I left the page and then realized:

Buffering events should be tracked as a metrics

The following numbers should be tracked

  • How long from clicking on play to when the video actually started to play
  • Every time the video automatically pauses for buffering, you should track the time-stamp (relative to video start) and for how long the video was paused.

This information will help you get from what happened to the why it happened, conclusively telling you if the viewing was abandoned due to load times or something else!

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3 thoughts on “The Missing Video Metric

  1. Humm intersting,

    I usually track videos with the nice jwplayer and gapro plugin, but it doesn’t track buffering states.
    http://www.longtailvideo.com/addons/plugins/107/Google-Analytics-Pro?q=

    We also developed a lib to track youtube embbeded videos interactions. The youtube API do have the abbility to track the buffering state. But we don’t send this. It should be easy to add that to the lib, though I’m pretty sure there’s a good reason we disabled it.
    http://code.google.com/p/ga-youtube-tracker/

  2. Ophir,
    Video buffering is a great metric to track to really shed some light on the why behind the what. Would you recommend creating a segment of all visits that hit the buffering event to learn behavior or approach it some other way?

    • I would initially check to see how many people are having buffering issues.
      Even without any analysis, if a significant percentage of users are seeing the video buffering after it starts playing, you need to fix it.

      If it’s just a small percentage, then using a segment would be my next step.

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