What Counts as a Video View?
During the VideoNuze 2015 Online Video Advertising Summit, Michael Sebastian of Advertising Age told the audience that on Facebook, a video must play for at least 3 seconds to qualify as a view, whereas to qualify as a view on YouTube it must play for at least 30 seconds.
There is also a discrepancy in how the video play must be initiated, according to Google’s Director of Brand Activation Michelle Bandler. On YouTube, the viewer must click play, whereas on Facebook, autoplay as the user scrolls down the page can still qualify as a view.
This information surprised us and made us consider its implications for the industry. If different sites are measuring views differently, then marketers and video producers should be aware of what their video views actually mean when interpreting how those numbers represent audience attention to their brand content.
So we looked further into how some of the most popular social sites define a view. Here’s what we found:
Facebook: The video must run on autoplay for at least 3 seconds. Even if the viewer doesn’t click to engage audio, it still counts as a view. However, you can also measure “Video views to 95%,” which reflects the number of viewers who watched at least 95% of your video (Facebook for business).
Twitter: For video advertising, Twitter only charges the advertiser when the video has been fully visible and playing for at least three seconds. Twitter also uses autoplay (Twitter).
Instagram: The video must run for at least 3 seconds. Instagram’s autoplay video feature loops the clip automatically, so the social network measures “unique users” instead of total views (Marketing Land).
Snapchat: The viewer must open the video, whether through a direct snap or a snap story. They do not have to watch the entire video for it to count as a view. If someone watches a snap multiple times, it still only counts as 1 view per user (Tyler Lawrence).
Vine: The user must watch the entire video, which on Vine is a maximum of 6 seconds (Marketing Land). Vine video metrics also include a “Loop Count,” which counts every loop replay as a new view, even on embedded sites (Vine blog). Videos loop automatically, so this metric means that new views will be counted even if the same viewer is allowing the video to loop repeatedly. Therefore the loop count doesn’t necessarily accurately reflect engagement.
YouTube: The viewer must click the play button to view the video, and they must watch it for at least 30 seconds (AdWeek).
Vimeo: Vimeo distinguishes between “loads” and “plays.” A load is when the video loads on Vimeo or the site where the video is embedded. A play is counted when someone pushes the video’s play button on Vimeo or the site where it’s embedded (Vimeo).
Yahoo! Screen: Although Yahoo doesn’t specifically define a view, it allows marketers to measure the “number of video starts” (the number of times a video play was initiated), “average percentage of videos watched” (watch time / video length), and “average number of video starts per unique videos watched.” It does not count views from embedded videos (Yahoo).
Knowing how social media sites measure views will help marketers to contextualize the data surrounding their content.
Zoe Epstein is a marketing and communications intern at Green Buzz Agency. She develops and executes social media strategy and reports on industry trends.