Last November, my 13-year-old son asked me, “Dad, can we go to Vidcon?” That my teenage asked me to do anything with him elicited a “yes” even though I didn’t know anything about Vidcon. As the months went by, my son started a YouTube channel with friends. He also introduced me to the programming he was watching and I learned more about the folks creating the content. By the time we went to the show this past weekend, I was probably as excited as he to attend.
Vidcon focuses on YouTube Content Creation
Vidcon is a conference for YouTube content creators. And it was quite an experience -- a mix between informative conference, rock concert, pep rally and community celebration -- maybe a bit like the Internet/Web functions of the mid to late 90s in the pre-dotcom bust days.
Break out sessions ranged from fan event meet ups with current YouTube content stars to serious gatherings about the economics of monetization and how to use YouTube for educational purposes. Exhibits sponsored by big name YouTube shows and networks were predominant; intermixed were companies pushing the medium forward with interactive technologies and delivery systems, and content management platforms.
Vidcon is the largest conference of its kind with nearly 12,000 attendees, and a seemingly large percentage of attendees being fans of a relatively small group of content producers that have been stunningly successful in generating revenues from AdSense, sponsorships, direct advertising and the like. Most other content creators are looking for ways to drive views and subscriptions so they too can cash in. Recent purchases of YouTube channels by Discover and AOL, and the formation of content networks by companies like Maker Studios and Machinima are heralding a surge in development of YouTube media powerhouses over the next few years.
Analytics for YouTube Focuses on Monetization
With all of this growth focused on monetization of content, what is the current state of analytics? Like the early days of the Web, there is interest in measurement, but it is fairly nascent. As one speaker observed, “We know what the audience wants through comments and likes, but we’d like to learn more.”
YouTube Analytics is the defacto analytics solution for evaluating performance of YouTube videos. Creators use it for understanding top line metrics such as views, location, demographics, referral sources, engagement and retention. It also couples with Ad Sense reporting and provides a snapshot of estimated revenue per channel. These metrics provide content creators with an “out of the box” source of data to consider improvements in content development and promotion.
But what if you want to understand how you compare with other channels that provide similar content? Or get to an even more granular understanding of characteristics that make for content that drives a higher monetization?
At Vidcon, I found a few specialized solutions that complement YouTube’s Analytics in both of these areas.
SocialBlade (SocialBlade.com) calculates estimated earnings per video and per channel. They also provide an influence score based on variables such as average daily views and network strength. The compilation of data allows you to compare your content against channels similar to yours and also gives you a sense of your own estimated revenue for a particular video.
To create these metrics SocialBlade tracks data on roughly two million channels and updates its numbers either daily or weekly depending on the size and frequency of the channel. The presentation of data in SocialBlade is static, similar to a web-based Excel. There is a free solution available to individual content creators and fee-based solution that can be “white labeled” for content networks.
vidIQ Analytics (vidiq.com) presents its analytics reports alongside the YouTube videos you produce featuring basic high level metrics from YouTube Analytics along with engagement data imported from Facebook and Twitter. A new metric for me was “words per minute” based on whether a script for the video is accessible. vidIQ indicates that some YouTube content creators see higher engagement the higher number of words per minute. The analytics component is only one element of a comprehensive YouTube content platform that includes Search Optimization, posting recommendations, Search Engine Optimization and nearly a dozen other YouTube channel management tools.
Tubular Labs (tubularlabs.com) is an analytics solution that shares features with advanced web analytics tools: real time reporting, segmentation capabilities. Like vidIQ it provides a host of channel management tools, such as influence alerts, posting recommendations, subscriber and comment management.
How Will the Analytics Market for YouTube Mature?
With few tools that look at monetization, we will certainly see continued evolution as content creators produce higher volumes of content; acquire and partner with multiple creators; and larger companies begin to enter the fray. As YouTube audiences grow tired of the “same old, same old” creators will need to get more creative in understanding what their audiences want, why they engage or not, and what specific segments engage with specific content. At the same time, content creators that started in YouTube will start to branch into other media channels and want to understand cross platform performance and how YouTube may impact other distribution channels such as streaming.
We’ll see whether this sets the stage for more solution options, evolution of the ones currently available, or larger, established analytics vendors simply evolving their offerings to compete.
Editor's Note: Read more of Phil's analytics insights in The Digital Analytics Center of Excellence Dream Team