I know this report came out a week or so ago, but it's essential reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the interwebs.
There is so much analysis produced these days that you need a report detailing the best reports to read. With all this noise, comScore continue to produce clear and informative statistics that always seem to answer the question someone in your office just asked you.
Some of the highlights from this report are the first-ever decline in annual growth rates for ecommerce as well as the unstoppable expansion of online video.
The report also captures the birth of Bing and the rise and rise of Facebook as it became the thrid largest display ad publisher in the US after Yahoo! and Fox Interactive Media (which includes MySpace).
You can download the entire report here, but you will have to give comScore some details first. It's well worth filling in the form to get to the report.
Online Video’s Jim O’Neill
satisfied continued demand for iPad stories with a piece on Hulu’s rush to
become iPad-friendly in time for the tablet’s launch or soon thereafter. There’s
no doubt this story will run and run and the implications for the future of
online video have yet to be fully determined.
Mark Robertson was
delighted to report on the efforts of many of the online video platforms to
support SEO as part of their offering. YouTube has been the de facto search
engine for video until now, so it’s great to see these platforms supporting the
indexing of video across all search engines.
Finally, today, no review of online video this week would be
complete without mentioning the Superbowl. In what was a fairly lackluster year,
the stand out commercial for me was this one for Snickers featuring Betty White
(now with added Abe Vigoda). Geriatric genius!
People are always asking me what (and who) I read to keep up
professionally, so I thought it was time for a post highlighting some of the
most useful sources of information I turn to regularly to keep me up to day
with the world.
Due to the nature of our EyeView’s business I find my blog
reading time split evenly between content that is focused on conversion and
optimization and commentary on the latest developments in online video and
video advertising. So will split this post into two and deal with each area
So here is a list of the top 5 go-to reads for conversion
and optimization. For each I’ll list a URL and Twitter ID where appropriate.
The best introduction you can have to the world of
conversion is Bryan Eisenberg. Eisenberg is published all over the place, but
is blogging regularly now at BryanEisenberg.com.
There is very little in the world of optimization that Bryan hasn’t already
written about, but you can be sure he always finds a fresh topic for his meaty
posts. In addition to his work online, Bryan has co-authored two of the most
informative books I have ever referred to – Always
Be Testing and Waiting
For Your Cat To Bark? Bryan tweets as @TheGrok.
The guys at Conversion Rate Experts
don’t blog as regularly as I would like them to, but when they do, you can bet
they have something weighty to say. With offices in London and New York, this
team of conversion consultants have built their reputation on making a
difference for some high-profile customers. They are definitely worth listening
Brian Massey has cleverly dubbed himself The Conversion Scientist.
It’s a great title, but it wouldn’t be worth anything if he didn’t back it up
regularly with some real science. You can follow Brian on Twitter where he is @bmassey.
and Chris Goward at Wider Funnel
put out consistently great material that always offers food for thought and
usually a practical way to apply that thought. Chris publishes a daily
conversion optimization tip on Twitter as @chrisgoward and Raquel moderates a
number of conversion optimization groups on LinkedIn.
My last entry for now is a bit of a cheat. SEOmoz doesn’t focus too hard on conversion
optimization, but the sheer breadth and volume of quality content that is
posted there means that they are host to some of the best
and most informative discussions on the subject. You can follow the SEOmoz
twitter stream here and pick through
the SEO stuff for some conversion optimization gems.
The announcement this week of the iPad brings with it some
mouthwatering possibilities for the further advancement of online video and video advertising in traditional print media.
The iPad is more portable than even the simplest notepad
computer. It's a leisure device first and foremost, not a work tool. I think we will finally see streaming video move out of the home
office and into the leisure experience. Browsing on the couch or in bed means
that users coming across video will relate to it in a different way.
The iPad might introduce video advertising into leisure time
as early adopters flick through apps while sipping on their coffee and eating
breakfast. It just looks like a more accessible tool than a formal laptop.
Part of the iPad’s strategy is to take on Amazon’s Kindle
and other ereaders. With a comprehensive range of books and periodicals for
sale from iTunes, there is a perfect opportunity to subsidize the cost to the
reader of a magazine or newspaper subscription with the insertion of targeted
video ads or at the very least video sidebars with extra information about a
story and links to other upselling opportunities.
It’s not that these possibilities don’t already exist, it’s
that the iPad is the first device in a long time with a good shot at changing
the way we consume print media.
I’ve never been an Apple evangelist, but the thought of
having all my magazine and newspaper subscriptions waiting for me in easy to
browse apps makes this a very tempting proposition.
Am I overstating the fact? I’d love to hear what you think.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
What they mean is, when someone pays attention to you and respects what you do
enough to reproduce one of your original ideas or activities you should be
flattered. And we usually are.
Last July, before the release of his New York Times
bestseller, Trust Agents, I approached Chris Brogan with an idea for a Twitter
giveaway. I proposed that we give away 50 copies of his book on the day of its
launch to the first 50 people who tweeted about a brand awareness campaign we
were running. The campaign centered on our Video Marketing Quiz which is a fun
interactive game that tests your knowledge of video as an effective marketing
We were overwhelmed with the results. As soon as Chris tweeted about
the giveaway, everything went nuts with thousands of people taking the quiz
and tweeting about it afterwards. It was such a simple idea, yet it worked so
well for us and we were tremendously grateful to Chris for his support and
proud to be part of the launch for Trust Agents.
We knew it was a successful idea when Chris ran with it and
instigated the exact
same promotion with his pals at LinkedIn less than a month later. I’m sure
it’s not the last time we will see Twitter used in this way.
Here’s a little gem that I missed at the end of last year.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has updated its guidelines regarding online
The IAB comprises more than 375 leading media and technology
companies who are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the
United States. According to their site, “the IAB educates marketers, agencies,
media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive
advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and
recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive
The IAB is concerned with standardizing the measurement of
ad impressions so that publishers and advertisers are always talking the same
language. Faced with the rapid growth of video ads, the IAB was compelled to
update its “Video Ad Impression Measurement Guidelines” from 2006 with a new
addendum dealing with Auto-play.
The IAB defines “Auto-play” as follows: A video ad or a video ad linked with video content that initiates
‘‘play’’ without user interaction or without a user actively starting the video
(essentially automatically starting without a ‘‘play’’ button being clicked by
The new IAB guidelines require approved web publishers to disclose
the fact that they using videos with auto-play to prevent unscrupulous
advertisers running such ads well below the fold and recording “impressions” that
may never be seen by visitors.
In a world where there is still much confusion over online
advertising, this attempt to introduce standards into the wild, wild web is
welcome, or at least it would be if it weren’t for two fundamental flaws in its
The first comes from the IAB’s continued definition. There
is no requirement to disclose the use of autoplay “if the user has a reasonable
expectation that they are entering a video environment.” Even today any user
should have a reasonable expectation that the commercial site they are visiting
is a “video environment”. In the next 12 months this will become even more
apparent as video achieves online ubiquity.
The second problem is even more basic. Using impressions to
value video ads will not remain the standard for much longer. Apart from a handful of big-name,
brand advertisers, companies will soon expect their video campaigns to provide ROI based on performance and how successfully they drive users through the sales funnel. As online advertising swings towards performance advertising, the
effectiveness of video will be judged by increased conversion, not by
impressions. There will no need for a standard definition of an impression once everybody has abandoned the world of impressions for performance.
The motivation for disclosure is becoming obsolete. Performance
advertisers demand measurement by performance, not impressions.
It may be the start of the new year but we’re still
calculating the gains online video made last year. comScore has just released
the online video viewing figures for November 2009 and they tell another story
of records being broken at the end of a breakthrough year for online video.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the latest report.
YouTube remains the most important delivery mechanism in
online video streaming over 12 billion videos in the month and helping Google
to a 39.4% share of all online video watching for the month.
Far behind YouTube, but ahead of everyone else is Hulu. With
a 3% share of all videos watched during the month Hulu has exceeded all
industry expectation and defied the perception that online video is a short
In fact the market share percentage of almost every video
property, including YouTube, has dropped since comScore’s figures of last July
with the exception of Hulu.
With the average Hulu viewer watching over 2.1 hours of
video in the month the average length of each online video viewed has risen to
exactly 4 minutes. There are no figures about the average duration of video
watched at YouTube, but this blogger believes it’s considerably less.
It may be time to start considering long form and short form
video as two different verticals online as one grows and the other recedes in
importance and viability for advertisers.
From the advertisers’ perspective, Tremor Media remained on
top with the widest potential reach of all ad networks at just under 50%
penetration, up from 42% in August. The rest of the top 10 also experience a
nice bump in penetration apart from ScanScout Network who have seen their
penetration drop from 50.6% last July to under 20% in November according to
comScore figures. This dip follows a round of funding
for ScanScout reported at $8.5 million.
The end of the year is always a time for reflection. This year I left behind my life with a major online video sharing site and started working for a company that is just as enamored with online video but approaches the medium with higher expectations. If video sharing sites represent the youthful excesses in the life of online video, then the next iteration is all about online video growing up, taking responsibility and earning its way.
Here are my predictions for the coming year in Online Video. I hope you enjoy my perspective.
Sharing sites will continue to grow in size but diminish in importance. In
other words YouTube will be huger than ever but the story will be even more
fragmented than it was this year. Apart from unpredictable viral hits like
Susan Boyle, no YouTuber will ever again achieve the prominence that
subscription grinders like Fred, Hot For Words and Michael Buckley have. YouTube
has taken over from MTV as the number one place to watch music videos. YouTube
is already more relevant as a search engine than as an entertainment
destination site. It’s almost like Google could see into the future when they
Some small and
medium businesses (SMBs) will embrace video more than ever before. The cost of
entry for online video has been so reduced that every commercial site will experiment
with the medium. Most will do so with no way of measuring whether the experiment
businesses will continue to invest large sums in telling their stories with
video. They will continue to be happy to do so despite not knowing how
effective these videos are because however large the budget they are still
cheaper than creating and buying airtime for TV ads.
and some large businesses will demand that their investment in online video
brings a measurable return. They will operate under the assumption that
marketing spend needs to be justified and they will seek out video solutions
that combine analytics with video creation and implementation. They will find such solutions and they will be very happy.
Video will become
a more important weapon in the affiliate marketer’s arsenal. As affiliates acknowledge
the persuasive power of video over less dynamic media, they will push
advertisers towards supplying video versions of banners and other collateral.
Affiliates will be a major force driving video to becoming more accountable in
the sales funnel.
reading this blog will appear in at least one video posted on the internet
between now and this time next year. Happy New Year.
As we come to the end of an amazing year, it’s great to look
back and reflect on the changes we’ve seen. The year 2009 will be remembered as
a breakout year for online video as it left the confines of video sharing sites
and crossed over into mainstream acceptance. In 2010 every commercial site will
include a video presentation at some point in its interaction with potential
The final sign of acceptance will be when video is made accountable
not just as a ‘nice to have’ marketing extra, but as a fully functioning tool
in the marketer's arsenal with its own ROI and the expectation of revenue
to be some debate about who said it first, but whether it was Oscar Wilde or
George Bernard Shaw the quip still holds true that England and America are “two
countries separated by a common language.”
when the language is the same, the accent used to express it can vary widely,
and our response to that variation may impact our willingness to listen to the
message being delivered.
We have long been interested
in testing the impact of different accents. We usually do not change the content
of a video for British or American audiences, but the accent in the voiceover
is a different matter entirely.
Software markets a product aimed at improving your written English. It identifies
spelling and grammar errors and is particularly useful for students, people
with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, and business people for whom English
is a second language. Once we had proven that the inclusion of video on Ginger’s
site increased their conversion rate, we decided to test whether there was a
difference in conversion when the audience heard an American or a British
accent delivering the voiceover. Given that the product is tied so closely to
people’s perception of correct English, we thought this would be real grudge
match between two great nations. And the results didn’t disappoint.
We ran an
A/B test where 50% of the global audience saw the video with a
voiceover in a British accent and 50% saw it with the voiceover performed with an American accent. The conversion goal for each version of the video was to get
visitors to download Ginger’s software.
the global population, we saw that the British voiceover was 4% more effective
at converting visitors into downloaders. On its own, that would be interesting enough,
but we wanted to look further into what was happening in each country.
that the often-heard comment by Americans that things sound smarter with a
British accent actually translates into action. For US audiences, the
conversion rate for the British accent was 5.5% higher than the American one – above the global average. In Canada, the British accent still outperformed
the American, but by a mere 1.5%.
viewers watching the British version converted 12% more often than those
hearing an American voice while the response of the Australians was even more
extreme. Viewers “down under” converted 32% more often when pitched with Pommie
tones than with an American twang.
didn’t have it all their own way. In India, the American accent was 12% more
effective at converting visitors. But the most surprising statistic of all came
when we looked at the comparative performance of the two accents in the UK. For
audiences watching the video in the UK, the voiceover with the American accent
was 8% more effective at making visitors download Ginger’s software than the
British accent, representing a significant swing away from the global trend. This was a wonderfully counter-intuitive response to the test that really drives home the importance of knowing your
audience and optimizing your video geographically to ensure you get the best
nothing to say that the results obtained here would be replicated for other
videos on other sites, but there is no denying the value of testing to ensure
you get the maximum revenue from your traffic wherever it comes from.