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  • Writer's pictureDan Bowsher | Sett Social

View Through Rate: The video stat too many ignore #SettUpForSocial

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

View through rate is a way more useful KPI for video marketing than views, but it's massively under used. In this post, I explain what it is, how to use it and why it matters so much.

Video is everywhere

Because video can be so effective, there's a lot of it out there. Social media feeds are full of them and it's now not a matter of having video but using video that works well.

And you're spoilt for choice.

From second-long GIFs to Instagram Stories and all the way through to epic live streams of sporting events there are plenty of options out there and the platforms themselves are massive advocates of video and want it to succeed.

Facebook, for example, is so focused on video that it enables you to animate your previously static posts as a value-added service in return for your ad-spend. It's pretty basic and no substitute for actual video content, but it's interesting they want to advertisers to use it that much.

Video made easy and affordable

An entire sub-industry has evolved to meet this demand, enabling brands to outsource the creation of content to armies of creators rather than investing in expensive, bespoke content. Vidsy is a great example of this. Seriously, check them out.

Image libraries and tools are in on the act too - Shutterstock, Canva and even this site's host Wix - all offer video library assets at a low cost to help brands bring movement to their content.

But, as I tell my clients across all aspects of social media marketing, you first need to be clear on what you need to achieve to determine which to choose and how best to use them before you jump in.

Video content developed with a specific purpose, audience and channel in mind can be really powerful. A video for the sake of it, is a waste of time, money and effort.

Why VTR matters

VTR measures how much of a piece of video content was actually watched as a proportion of the overall views, and that matters when it comes to understanding your return on investment.

Lots of people still mistakenly believe the number of views a video receives is the principle measure of success but the fact you can literally promote video to reach a pre-determined number of people means that is just one of the means of measuring success.

It still matters, but it doesn't help you to understand how it's landed and it certainly won't help you to get better at video in the future.

What's in a view

There is also no standard classification as to what constitutes a view across the various platform, so you can't look at total views on a like for like basis.

The definition of a view can be mind-boggling to the uninitiated.

This excellent piece on the Marketing Land blog provides a comprehensive list of the latest info here.

It's worth highlighting that on LinkedIn, for example, the definition is "50 percent of the ad is in-view for 1 second on desktop and 300 milliseconds (one-third of a second) on mobile."

Think about that.

As an advertiser, you're paying for a 'view' when half of the video is visible for a fraction of a second when someone is scrolling through their LinkedIn feed on their train journey into work. Most other platforms give you up to 2 seconds, by the way.

VTR in practice

If you have a 3 minute video and it's viewed 100,000 times, you would think that's a pretty good return.

However, what happens when you dig into the VTR and realise that 75% of that 100,000 had stopped watching after just 8 seconds, 20% stopped by 12 seconds and less than 1% stuck with it all the way through?

It might sound far fetched - you've invested some decent money in a beautifully crafted story, after all - but if you've never used VTR to improve video performance, I'd encourage you to have a look at your analytics asap to see how your content has been faring. You'll be surprised.

How to use VTR

There are some really important ways VTR can have a big impact on your campaign and content success:

  1. Optimising length of video content.

Tracking VTR overtime helps you to understand how much time your audience is giving you before the switch off.

It will differ by platform, medium and demographic, but it will help you to identify how much time you have to communicate your message.

2. Identifying what is turning people off.

When you marry the duration of views and and analysis of the drop off points with what's actually happening in the content, you may well find that certain elements provoke greater drop offs.

This should inform themes, treatments, etc. to reduce this figure over time.

3. Shifting the narrative.

This is the real game changer for me as it challenges the way many of us think about a video's structure.

VTR gives you a very clear view of audience interest, and you will very soon see that traditional story arcs, where the context is set, the story told and it culminates in the pay off of big reveal at the close doesn't work.

Time is too tight to let it.

Social video requires brands creators to be flexible with the structure of their content, to test and learn and to (sometimes) put stuff out there that just doesn't instinctively feel right.

But if you can put yourself into that mindset, it will help you to reap the rewards in the longer-term.

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