YouTube Adds New Audience-Tracking Tools

Contributors Can Now See Where, When Videos Are Being Watched

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NEW YORK ( -- YouTube has become an increasingly important distribution channel for content creators, established media companies and advertisers, all of whom have been putting pressure on the site to pull back the curtain on consumers' video-viewing habits.

YouTube, which delivers one out of every three online videos viewed, according to ComScore, today responded by introducing an analytics product that will let video creators see the geographic makeup of their audience, using internet protocol data, and a timeline charting a video's popularity. Up until now, the only publicly available information was the number of views, comments and ratings.

Know your audience
Tracy Chan, YouTube product manager, said the analytics tool will help content creators grow their audience and optimize performance by telling them on what days their videos get the most views and where those views come from.

"With this insight you have a better view and more context around your audience ... and maybe some signals that can help your video gain more popularity," he said, adding that the idea is to "build audiences, and that equals more views, more ads on videos and more revenue for partners."

He cited a hypothetical example of a movie marketer that might upload multiple trailers to YouTube -- one trailer that is more comedic in nature, another that is more dramatic. Perhaps the studio notices the trailers do particularly well in Michigan, a place where it has advertised heavily. In this case, YouTube's analytics act as a marketing-effectiveness tool. Maybe the studio is surprised by the popularity of a trailer in Utah and uses that analytics information as a planning tool, increasing ad spending there because it realizes the trailer resonates with that audience.

Better targeting
Mr. Chan also suggested marketers can use the analytics tool as a way to inform creative -- if the comedic trailer works particularly well in an area, then perhaps that informs the nature of the offline media, such as ads buys in the local papers.

"It's the world's largest focus group [for video]," he said.

The analytics data, in its current form, is quite limited, however: It slices geographic data by state and the time-viewing data by day, although YouTube said it could evolve the product to offer more granular viewing data around daypart or market. Right now, it ranks geographic views by absolute numbers and also a relative metric of "popularity," which looks at all videos played within a region and ranks them in terms of views.

"There'll be a through-a-looking-glass moment," said Shiva Rajaraman, YouTube product manager. "[Content creators] have been thinking of YouTube as a site and forget it's a doorway to reach audiences everywhere."
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