YouTube Metrics Reporting Falls Short Despite Pleas From Publishers


YouTube Attention Span - LockerGnome and Chris Pirillo

The main goal for any YouTube content producer should be to grow their subscriber base since growing that subscriber list almost guarantees views. Sometimes growing a subscriber base is simple, for example FunnyOrDie.com has Will Ferrell and Machinima has a gigantic network for which it can promote its content. But what about publishers who are trying to find their voice on the social video sharing platform or the guys who’s audience is so specific that they need extremely strong metrics reporting?

Unfortunately YouTube has not adopted a metric model that assists publishers in any real and effective way. While browsing Facebook on Thursday I ran across a screenshot (pictured above) by LockerGnome founder Chris Pirillo (pictured shown above). In his post he told his users:

“Why am I starting to aim at the 4-5 minute mark for our videos on YouTube? This [screenshot]. I can’t fight statistics or averages, unfortunately.”

I reached out to Chris and after a quick conversation his frustrations were immediately realized. According to Pirillo:

“All I care about is what my subscribers think, why are they liking the video and whether or not they are sharing the video. I don’t care about over all view count because I need to know what my subscribers want more of, not simply what they have been viewing.”

Chris admits that his four to five minute mark for new videos is a bit of a guessing game, on the one hand when he has created shorter videos he has matched what YouTube is telling him users will watch. On the other hand many of his subscribers, including those on his Facebook post have begged for his 10+ minute videos.

Sadly why users are jumping off his pages is not known. Chris guesses and probably rightfully so that it’s “just about attention span, if it doesn’t grab your attention your gone.”

Yet mass produced content providers like LockerGnome are not necessarily creating content for the masses. Scratch that Chris Pirillo is NOT creating content for the masses, he’s creating videos that specifically target the tech sector and more specifically the type of gadgets, hardware, software and business technology insights he examines and reports on every single day.

So what’s the problem? Essentially Google is not leveraging its analytics know-how to empower YouTube subscribers through better content production. Imaging how much more effective a tech channel could be if it knew that its main subscriber audience was watching more 6 minute videos than 3 minute videos? That channel could create quality content for the people who enjoy it at lengths they prefer, thus creating more authoritative sharing and ultimately better supported channels by real fans of the content being produced.

As Chris points out, his average 10 minute videos are receiving around 100 likes, but he can’t really pinpoint the share counts on 4-5 minute videos because he has posted more than 5,000 videos and there is no simple way to examine their content.

Pirillo further notes:

“Because of the lack of metrics it is difficult to ascertain why people are tuning out. It’s hard to determine their content wants and their expectations for that content.”

If publishers could determine wants and expectations publishers could target at least some of their videos to match their subscriber wants which in turn would lead to more views.

In no uncertain terms the LockerGnome founder states:

“General numbers don’t explain what subscribers want and subscribers miss out if they don’t get what they want.”

I asked Pirillo what he wanted to see more of and as expected his main concern is information about his “most highly engaged users.”

Chris’ thought process makes sense, as he proclaims:

“All I care about is what my subscribers think, why are they liking the video, are they sharing the video. I don’t care about over all view count. Just let me know what my subscribers want more of and what they will potentially do and are currently doing with that content.”

He adds that one of YouTube’s biggest metrics problems is that there is currently “no clarification on the qualification of a view.” Essentially YouTube needs to allow producers to “know” their subscribers.

If YouTube will simply let a producer know what a subscriber is doing the company could find itself with better content, which ironically has been a big goal for YouTube over the last several years.

During our interview Chris was extremely passionate about his hopes for YouTube. As he said several times throughout our phone call, “I love YouTube, I love what YouTube is doing. I just wish they would give me the tools to empower my subscribers in an effective way. I’m trying to do more for and with my subscribers, I just wish YouTube would do a better job of helping me do that.”

Pirillo then revealed that he has attempted to work with YouTube on metrics issues in the past and that those efforts have produced no results. He blatantly told me that if Google will accept his help he would love to leverage his experience as a mass producer of content on the video platform to help the social video sharing site develop reporting, specifically to develop metrics that will benefit YouTube, YouTube producers and the websites subscriber and non-subscriber bases.

As Chris explains “YouTube knows they need this type of metric reporting” but they simply are not getting to it quickly enough. His hope for the future? That YouTube will bring in a producer or even a group of producers to help guide the video sharing websites publisher platform.


James Kosur

James Kosur has worked in the new media space for the last 10 years, helping many publications build their audiences to millions of monthly readers. He currently serves as the Director of Business Development at Business2Community.com and the CEO of Aven Enterprises LLC.

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