1. What are the biggest challenges of measuring Internet video?
Whether you're measuring video online, on traditional television sets or on an expanding array of other delivery platforms, the ultimate objective is to be able to identify who actually is watching the content, because advertisers consider demographic measurement of audiences critical to effectively targeting their creative messages.
From a single panel perspective (where we measure both Internet and television in the same home) a major hurdle is simply getting people to allow us to measure their Internet usage. From a privacy standpoint, people see PC's as dramatically different from TV's, and, at this point, they are much less willing to allow us to measure their online activities.
Another complexity is that fact that virtually all sites have their own internal measurement, and creating syndicated data that provides a comprehensive view that is in line with client's server data can be difficult for a variety of reasons. But in general, creating Internet video measurement systems that are flexible and scalable enough to accommodate the fluid nature of the present industry is the chief challenge we've embraced.
2. The only thing I've seen actively measured currently is the number of times a video is accessed or downloaded. Do you think this is a valuable metric?
The number of times a piece of content (or a website or banner) is requested can provide relevant context for the sake of comparison. But accessing, or even downloading, video is not the same as watching it. We know that from other experiences. Thus, the metrics of greater value are those that provide real insights into actual consumer profiles and behavior. Demographic information such as this - as well as how much (from a duration perspective) and how many times content is actually consumed - will become more and more important. But we also recognize the fact that we may have to change or even create new metrics as new ad formats and executions develop.
3. Are we in for another round of "hits vs. page views" when it comes to measuring Internet video?
The metrics and debates surrounding Internet measurement (or any audience measurement for that matter) will continue to evolve as new delivery and consumption technologies are introduced. It's inevitable that we will have to develop newer solutions to provide relevant, actionable data to our clients. The recent transition by NetRatings to "time spent" from "page views" is one example. Similarly, the progression from accesses, to who is accessing, to who is accessing and how much they are accessing is logical.
4. What do you think is the most valuable metric when it comes to Internet video? What year (if ever) do you think we'll be able to start measuring it?
An essential metric is persons viewing - comprehensive information about who's actually watching the video. Conceptually, the capacity to deliver person's viewing to Internet video represents a major stride, and one we're taking with the NetRatings' VideoCensus service.
But more broadly, we believe the ability to connect and analyze video content across delivery platforms (which is the basis for our A2M2 initiative) is the foundation for the most valuable metrics. We will begin building a test panel next month to support that vision, and expect initial data in the Spring. (A2M2 = Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement)
5. Will things ultimately evolve to a point where actual viewership will be tracked via software and not require panels?
We always are hopeful that advances in technology will present us with less intrusive opportunities to interact with consumers to gain insights into their viewing. Furthermore, creativity in how we can build hybrid panel/census solutions (similar to VideoCensus) is going to be critical to meeting the industry needs in a cost-effective manner. But panels will continue to supply the demographic composition information, whether it is reported directly or applied to census data.
6. Simultaneous viewers seem to be what advertisers really get excited about when it comes to traditional television. Does simultaneous viewing play a role when measuring Internet video?
We expect the definition of simultaneous viewing to evolve as platforms advance and change. Traditionally defined simultaneous viewing (such as a parents and children watching television simultaneously) will certainly remain an opportunity for advertisers. But we think another interesting trend involves individual viewers consuming both television and the Internet simultaneously. Watching traditional television while also online enables viewers to immediately drill down into anything that inspires them. They might go to an advertiser website if they see an ad on TV; or to a programmer's site for additional information or supplementary content from a show they're watching. This cross-platform promotional opportunity is very intriguing, and one area where we'll see some very interesting developments is in the gaming space, which will be increasingly important to measure.
7. Is "number of times played" a valuable metric? Some short-form Internet videos have much higher replay than, say, a 42-minute episode of "Lost." I know I have watched the "Will it Bend" short for the iPhone at least 5 times.
In and of itself, frequency is not terribly important. But when you combine it with overall reach, you then have some relevant gauges.
8. While many of the short videos have no advertising (or are themselves some type of advertising) regular television programming that's available for streaming over the Internet (ABC, for example, has a few - but only a few, 30-second breaks during its streams. How important is it to measure viewership for these spots?
That's what it's all about. Accurately measuring audience and behavior related to these spots is critical to business development, and consistent with our traditional television business.
9. If I download an episode of "Lost" from iTunes and then watch 15 minutes of it via iTunes or Apple TV, when I sync my iPhone and choose that episode, it picks up wherever I left off (the reverse is true as well). All the information is "tracked" (at least viaiTunes/iPod/iPhone). How important is this sort of information when it comes to measurement?
While the migration from analog to digital poses a variety of challenges, digital technologies also afford us a host of opportunities. Dealing with time-shifting is a terrific example of that dual phenomenon. The ability to aggregate viewing occurring at different points in time is becoming ever-more critical. That is clearly evident in the use of "live-plus-3" as the preferred measurement for this year's national television upfronts.