RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Jan 2, 2013

I’ve come to accept the fact that professional communicators have short-term memories. In the past, I’d raise an eyebrow when some marketing or public relations person would scoff at a corporate video being viewed 350 times on YouTube. “Only?” I’d ask. Ah, how quickly we forget.

Less than eight years ago (when YouTube was founded in 2005), if a company wanted to distribute 350 videos, it had to record them (in standard definition), copy them onto magnetic tapes, package them, and then pay postage for each package sent. If each video cost $1.00 to copy and $1.00 to distribute, those 350 videos would cost $700 to deliver. At a variable cost of $2.00 per tape, every incremental video would cost the company additional money. Today, these same companies can record in high definition videos, upload them to YouTube, and then sit back and watch the service deliver them at no incremental cost per view.

This past fall, YouTube added an interesting new measurement to its Insights dashboard that helps put this “Zero Variable Cost” into perspective. The metric, called “Estimated Minutes Viewed,” demonstrates how many minutes people have spent watching video content. With only 24 hours in a day, this measurement reveals how much time your prospects and clients are loaning to you.

Consider the costs associated with a Superbowl commercial. According to Neilsen, last year’s rate sheet required advertisers to pay $100,000 per thirty-second spot to be seen by up to 111 million people. Assuming that all 111 million of these viewers decided to watch the ad rather than leaving the room to get more guacamole, viewer would have loaned 55 million minutes (916,000 hours) of their attention to the advertiser.

Yet, after 30 seconds, the experience would be over–finished as the audience’s attention was drawn elsewhere–either to another ad, back to the game, or more likely, back to the refrigerator for more guacamole.

Now consider an online video service like YouTube, where the video sits waiting to be viewed. Unlike the restrictions of a live sporting event like the SuperBowl, access to the content isn’t limited by time zone or time of day.

In the example above, we can see that between October 7th and the 13th, this company’s online video catalog was viewed 35,281 times. Until YouTube added timing information, this was all the information that content marketers had access to. However, we now have an alternative way to view the data by translating those 35,281 views into time invested by our viewers: 292,046 minutes (~4,800 hours) or 202 days 19 hours…for only one week!

But this number holds even greater meaning if one considers:

  • The week before, prospects and customers invested 3,800 of their hours to viewing the content
  • The week before that they loaned 3,550 hours
  • and the week before that, 35,000 views translated into 4,300 hours of loaned attention.

It’s important not to lose sight of the fact that:

  • digitized video stored in the cloud is a gift that keeps on giving.
  • corporate videos on video sharing sites continue to rack up more and more views as time goes on.
  • For every additional view, the total cost per view gets smaller.
  • The longer a video resides on a site, the more impressions it gets, and therefore the CPM goes down over time.

How much would you have to pay traditional media to average 4,000 hours of content viewed per week?

Filed under: Social Media