Following the Eyeballs

Video analytics is not a term that strikes excitement in the hearts of social media fanatics. It’s far too enmeshed in advertising lingo like “impressions” and “views” to appeal to the average Web 2.0 fan. But few among us can deny that ads fuel our beloved social tech economy. Further, I doubt many would object if our favorite sites and brands could find a more integrated, targeted and relevant method of ad delivery. In order to do this effectively, companies must turn to sophisticated measurement tools that deliver a deep level of insight about user habits and behavior.

The subject got a bit of attention this week when BrewPR’s Brooke Hammerling called for industry-wide standards in video analytics in a post for Silicon Alley Insider. She argued that terms such as “views” are too open to interpretation and manipulation. One commenter, Greg Stuart, former CEO of the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), parried back that the “view” term has been clearly defined – “at least as it’s defined for advertising” – by the IAB. The Washington Post weighed in on the topic yesterday, reiterating the lack of industry-wide standards. It’s also worth noting that advertisers are fickle bunch; they go where the results are. If there is no ability to measure results effectively, and no way to connect views with specific actions, then advertisers have no meaningful way to directly evaluate their online video ad spend. Thus, the huge opportunity in this space: not just for effective tools, but to define the terms of the competition.

We featured Visible Measures at DEMO 08, a company that interprets user behavior at significant intervals of viewing. As we said then, views – however you define them – are the easy part; understanding exactly how viewers interact with a video is a tougher nut to crack. With an average of 20-40 different events occurring during viewing, including rewinding, fast forwarding and the like, a rich field of user behavior would lie fallow without services like Visible Measures.

To evaluate effectively, you have to follow your users across all viewing platforms and mediums, which brings us to Divinity Metrics, a company whose product chases your video around the Web, delivering analytics on all occurrences of a video across the Internet. The majority of analytics companies today focuses on measurement within the video; important to be sure, but the very nature of viral video demands a tool that can extend beyond walled gardens to the places viewers are congregating. Divinity Metrics’ Scope product measures viral video in real time and delivers all manner of analysis on user behavior to its clients. This is not a tool to track the viewings of your cat playing the piano. It’s aimed at interactive marketing agencies and major brands who must continuously shape online strategies in order to compete effectively in the new media marketplace. Divinity Metrics’ analysis is an aggregation of all relevant channels online, including YouTube, MySpace and BitTorrent sites, so clients get a one-stop dashboard shot of every behavior and user associated with a video. Through analysis of the social activity around a video, and the type and quality of traffic garnered, clients are able to plan campaigns that resonate effectively with audiences.

The company won’t disclose names of specific clients at this point – they plan customer announcements soon – but the roster consists mainly of film and television networks, ad agencies, music companies and video producers. They’ve been around for a couple of years and are super smart about the sector, a fact immediately evident with just a glance at the product dashboard. Divinity Metrics has built an impressive product and service – entirely Web-based with the ability to export data via xml – that answers a real need. It isn’t alone in the field, with last month’s launch of YouTube Insight and its closest competitor, TubeMogul, which also distributes video for its clients, getting much more play in the media. But from what I’ve seen in this space, Divinity Metrics is an expertly designed, high-end analytics tool for those entities with a large stake in the online video business. If you’re ready to get serious about in-depth analysis of your brand online, they’re definitely worth a look.

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