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Why “Time Watched” Is the Best Metric to Measure the Value of Video

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So the adage goes, you get what you measure.

And if you don’t measure your investment in video marketing properly, very quickly it’s going to look like a bad use of time and money, which means you’ll stop investing.

I think the reason why many companies are underinvesting in video, is because they are treating the wrong metrics as KPIs, and thereby under-reporting on the value video is providing. B2B companies typically measure videos exclusively in terms of their contribution to conversions. And B2C companies typically measure video in exclusively in terms views and impressions.

Both have big problems.

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Conversion-based measurement is an attempt to put a meaningful monetary figure on the value received from the video, such that one can calculate “ROI” by comparing cost and return. This involves measuring how much a video contributes to the bottom line, based on a position in a funnel — simply put, trying to work out how many people ended up purchasing your product or service after watching your video.

The least sophisticated method of doing this is to track how many people watch a video and then take the next measurable step towards purchase within the same session. More sophisticated methods track the same user over multiple sessions and channels, using cookies, to see if they watch a video and then come back to purchase at a later date. This is known as an “assisted conversion.” Different attribution models are then used to determine how much won revenue should be applied to each session and interaction.

There’s not an inherent problem with measuring conversions and assists in this way. In fact, especially for product, onboarding, and sales videos, it makes complete sense to track this metric and use it to justify further investment. The problems arise, however, when you rely on conversion for all videos, as your sole KPI.

Doing so is essentially saying that the main job of each video you create is to drive conversion, or in other words, every video is a product or sales video. But video, self-evidently, can be so much more than this. What if someone watches my video, talks about my brand in a private Slack group, and then a contact of theirs visits my website to become a customer?

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To many, this would register as a non-converting video viewer, followed by a direct or organic conversion, with the video having contributed nothing to the result. In reality, the video that was shared in this instance was the marketing touchpoint that made all the difference.

Clearly this is an issue, but the main problem with conversion-only measurement is what it does to the creative process. If you measure every video like a product video, you end up making only product videos. Learning videos, intended to simply educate potential customers, end up trying to sell the virtues of the your product. This leaves you with content that feels overly self-promotional, which quickly turns audiences off.

“The main problem with conversion-only measurement is what it does to the creative process.”

Similarly, ads for social media, intended to engage audiences and raise brand awareness, end up trying to explain detailed product value propositions. And you can guess what happens next — your audiences tunes out.

The paradox presented here is clear; the focus on conversion actually prevents companies from creating great videos, which negatively affects conversions.

Impression-based measurement is an attempt to determine how many people your videos has reached, such that one can calculate market penetration and brand awareness. This involves capturing the “view” and “impression” metrics from all the video distribution platforms available, and aggregating them to get a sense of the amount of people reached.

The least sophisticated method of doing this is to track the number of impressions (users exposed to the video), and then divide this by distribution spend to determine CPM (cost per thousand impressions).

More sophisticated methods involve discounting impressions which did not lead to a view of a certain quality threshold (e.g. watching more than 10 seconds of the video), and then tracking the number of “Engaged views” across all platforms.

There’s not an inherent problem with measuring views in this way. In fact, especially in competitive markets, having a proxy for “reach” can be very important. The problems arise with this methodology when impressions become your sole KPI. Doing so is essentially saying that the main job of each video is to generate reach — every video should be as shareable and immediately engaging as possible.

Video can serve a much greater purpose than simply grabbing attention on social media. If a relatively small number of people watch a video that contains a strong brand or product message, is this less valuable than a large number of people watching something frivolous? With this mindset, the following would classify as Wistia’s most successful marketing video to date.

If you measure every video like a viral social video, you only make viral social videos. Lots and lots of short videos, all with catchy hooks. Learning videos, intended to simply educate potential customers, become unnecessarily short, with a disingenuous hook for the sake of maximizing average percentage watched and view counts, making them feel shallow.

“Learning videos become unnecessarily short, with a disingenuous hook for the sake of maximizing average percentage watched and view counts, making them feel shallow.”

Ads for social media, intended to engage audiences and raise brand awareness, end up sacrificing brand message to hit whatever will appeal to the greatest number of people, which fails to generate truly meaningful brand impressions

Paradoxically, the focus on impressions ensures fewer people are actually impressed.

The world is becoming more connected and simultaneously more private at the same time. We’re subjected to a constant stream of advertising noise across the web, and yet have better and better tools to find exactly what we’re looking for, from the people we trust most.

This means word of mouth is becoming the most important, and preferred means of influencing purchasing decisions, for individuals and companies alike. And this is why “Time Watched” is a great KPI for the vast majority of videos — it prevents us from caring only about people who purchase and people who engage with our content, however insignificant the impact is for them.

To prove the point, let’s compare Assisted Conversions, Engaged Views, and Time Watched for three different Wistia videos over comparable, but different months. We’ll be looking at:

  • A product video on one of our product pages (The Wistia Video Player)
  • A video that went viral on social media (How to Collaborate Remotely on a Video Shoot)
  • The first episode of our original series (One, Ten, One Hundred)

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Most marketers will look at these numbers and think “The product video is clearly the most valuable one, you just need to find a way to get that in front of more people … ,” but I’d urge you to leave your measurement biases aside for one moment and take a wider view.

Intuition should tell you that the long-form original series video is the best and most valuable piece of content marketing out of these three. Surely, 3,700 people watching most of a 10-minute video is more beneficial than 20,000 people watching a 20 second snippet each. And you can also surmise that many of the conversions attributable to the product video are because of its position in the funnel, rather than its absolute value.

“Intuition should tell you that the long-form original series video is the best and most valuable piece of content marketing out of these three.”

In these cases, we saw a much bigger increase in both branded search volume and absolute number of conversions following the launch of our long-form video series, than we did with the short viral success or the new product video.

This is almost certainly because it had a much bigger impact on our existing customers, potential customers, and influencers, but only ‘Time Watched’ gives us a good sense of this as a comparable video metric.

Focusing on Time Watched has an added benefit of encouraging you to create better content:

  • A focus on Conversions tells you that product videos are the best, and you should make more of them.
  • A focus on Impressions tells you that you should create more short-form, entertaining videos that aren’t tied to your brand story.
  • A focus on Time Watched tells you to focus on the things that your audience has meaningfully, voluntarily engaged with.

Admittedly, Time Watched has problems of its own. For starters, it extrapolates from a concrete sense of “people impacted” to a more abstract number, “content consumed.” Where I can imagine X number of people watching a video or Y percentage of those people converted, it’s much harder to mentally visualize consumption.

It’s also, intentionally, not a metric that can be seen through the lens of “ROI,” or tied to a typical conversion funnel. But, in the modern digital world, where interactions with your brand are happening more on big media platforms and within walled gardens, funnel-based measurement tells an increasingly inaccurate story.

The great value of Time Watched for those trying to justify investment in video, is that it’s a metric that can be used to compare different media types. If I can show that 500 hours were spent reading 20 blog posts, but 700 hours were spent watching just 5 videos, it makes the case for shifting from investment in text and images to videos much easier.

If we can grasp the concept that, as marketers, we are no longer optimizing for share of voice, (i.e. the amount of noise being made) but for share of mind (i.e. the time and consideration people are spending with your company), Time Watched reveals itself as the best possible universal video metric.



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Video Marketing

4 Businesses That Grew Through the Power of Creativity

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When most businesses decide to scale, they usually channel all of their thoughts and energy on meeting the end result: growing their company by X percent. But, ironically, focusing on the results doesn’t always mean you’ll get them.

In a live interview at Goldman Sachs’ Technology and Internet Conference in 2015, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, was asked to name some of Apple’s most significant accomplishments from the past year. Famously, he responded, “We’re not focused on the numbers. We’re focused on the things that produce the numbers.”

In essence, Cook was saying that focusing on the process rather than the results is the key to success. After all, to thrive in a world brimming with infinite options, you need to create a product or service worth purchasing — and not just purchasable.

Building something that can cut through the noise requires extraordinary creativity. To inspire your company’s creative process, we explore four companies that have leaned heavily on creativity to fuel their growth. Read on to get your own creative juices flowing.

When Nick Gray was asked to go on a date to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, he was a little disappointed. The Met was where you went when your parents were in town, not when you were going on a romantic date. But Nick liked the woman he was seeing. So, he accepted her invitation.

To his surprise, Nick and his date didn’t aimlessly meander through every exhibit that caught their eye. Instead, Nick’s date gave him a captivating tour of different art, sculptures, and artifacts. Enamored by the Met’s vast collection of humanity’s history, Nick realized just how special the museum actually was.

Nick became obsessed with the Met, visiting it all the time, voraciously researching exhibits that piqued his interest, and eventually giving his own tours to friends. His tours got so popular that he realized he could turn them into his own business. He called it Museum Hack.

Museum Hack’s mission is to shatter the common belief that museums are boring — just as the date at the Met had done for Nick. Leading themed tours, such as the one based on Game of Thrones, through some of the country’s top museums, Museum Hack takes customers on focused, energetic journeys that are chock-full of stories, games, and, most importantly, fun.

“Museum Hack’s mission is to shatter the common belief that museums are boring …”

Museum Hack knows that their guides can make or break tours, so the company hires expert storytellers who train for three months before leading a single tour. They also dig up the juiciest stories about historical figures, art, and artifacts that you’d never see on a museum plaque, ensuring that they entertain just as much as they educate.

Convincing the public that museums are the most remarkable institutions on earth is a tall order. But Museum Hack has done just that — and then some. Their tours have garnered over 5,400 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor, generated $2.8 million in revenue in 2018, and grown their business by 107% in the past three years.

One of the least appealing parts of marketing? Sourcing stock photos. Not only are most stock images cheesy, but they can also be costly. Fortunately, Mikael Cho, the former CEO of Crew, an online marketplace for creatives, harbored this same disdain for cheesy, expensive stock photos.

Back in 2013, Crew had only three months of cash left. No venture capitalists were biting either, so Cho tried to attract some attention by building a Tumblr website that offered free, professional-grade photos. His target market could probably use them.

Four hours and $19 later, Unsplash was born. And after posting Unsplash on Hacker News, Cho’s side project rocketed to the top of the discussion board and attracted 50,000 visitors in one day. Within a month, Unsplash had 20,000 email subscribers and even referred some customers over to Crew.

Four months later, Unsplash helped Crew double their revenue, which enabled them to secure $10.6 million in funding. Unsplash had officially saved Crew.

Soon after, tech media outlets, like The Verge, Next Web, Fast Company, TechCrunch, and Forbes, ate the story up. Forbes even started using Unsplash’s photos and linked back to their website. Two years later, Unsplash became Crew’s top referral source.

The story of Unsplash is compelling proof that focusing on creativity can pluck you out of even the deepest financial abyss. By focusing on the artistic side of photography — not necessarily the business side — and the customer experience, Unsplash attracted a steady stream of users and publicity. This focus persuaded the best freelance photographers to publish photos on their website to market their art and, in turn, continually enhance Unsplash’s library of images.

“By focusing on the artistic side of photography — not necessarily the business side — and the customer experience, Unsplash attracted a steady stream of users and publicity.”

Since then, Crew spun off Unsplash as its own stand-alone company. The Tumblr website that initially offered ten free photos every ten days now boasts a network of 110,000 contributing photographers and a library of 1 million images that have been downloaded over 1 billion times.

What’s arguably even more impressive is that Cho sold Crew to Dribbble in 2017 and raised $7.25 million in funding for Unsplash. Not only did Unsplash save and spark Crew’s growth, but they also built themselves into something any entrepreneur would be proud of.

In 2008, Jack Conte and his wife, Nataly Dawn, started a band called Pomplamoose. But, unlike most new bands, they didn’t want to build their presence through live gigs; they wanted to build it online.

For the next five years, Pomplamoose created and posted original songs, experimental covers, and clever mash-ups on YouTube, attracting over 150,000 subscribers. Some of their videos even went viral and boasted millions of views. But the exhilarating high Conte felt watching the band’s loyal fan base grow would always crash when he checked their YouTube revenue each month. At most, they would make a few hundred dollars.

Fed up with the internet’s self-centered monetization model and the lack of respect and financial security artists received, Conte teamed up with entrepreneur Sam Yan to launch Patreon, a platform for artists to offer monthly subscriptions to their content and generate a reliable stream of income.

From podcasters to musicians to comedians, artists of all stripes can effectively monetize their creativity on Patreon, taking home an average of 90% of their subscription revenue. Conte and Yan specifically designed their business model this way because they wanted Patreon’s success to depend on their artists’ success. In other words, creativity is the only thing that can fuel their growth. And it’s working.

Today, Patreon has over 100,000 artists creating content on their platform and over 3 million patrons supporting them. Patreon is also expected to process $500 million in payments and generates $50 million in revenue in 2019 and has raised over $165 million in venture capital.

During the first half of the decade, most podcasts were cliché, talking-head interviews with little personality or flair. Most people listened to them to educate themselves on a specific topic — not necessarily to entertain themselves. But that all changed once Sarah Koenig’s iconic podcast, Serial), launched in 2014.

Serial was one of the first narrative-driven podcasts ever released, and it captured the imagination of the entire world, reaching 5 million downloads faster than any other podcast in history.

After binge-listening to Serial and witnessing everybody squabble over Adnan Syed’s innocence, Steve Pratt, the co-founder of Pacific Content, realized he could help businesses make the same mark in the working world.

Serial raised people’s podcasts expectations, but many brands didn’t have the expertise or resources to craft shows of that caliber. This market gap inspired Pratt to launch Pacific Content, a production agency that makes original podcasts with brands. He became an early adopter of narrative-driven podcasts and partnered with some of the world’s biggest brands, including Facebook, Slack, and T-Brand Studio, to craft shows that rival top podcasts like This American Life and even the agency’s own inspiration — Serial.

Blazing the trail for brands to tell stories through podcasts and winning numerous awards for their work, Pacific Content was acquired by Rogers Media, one of the largest and most influential Canadian media companies, in 2019.

To thrive in a world of infinite choice, building a product or service that can cut through the noise is crucial — but trying to manufacture the results won’t get you anywhere. Instead, focus on the process and channel your creativity, just like these four companies did.

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2020 Video Trends & Usage: Consumption is up 120% During COVID-19

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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted the way the world works — including how businesses function and how employees do their jobs. Here at Wistia, we immediately noticed an uptick in content creation and video engagement this March when the pandemic began to sweep the nation.

Now, several months into this “new normal,” we’re ready to pull back the curtain and share some data and trends from our platform in true Wistia fashion. After all, we do have a track record of being super transparent with our business decisions, successes, and even the occasional flop.

Below, we’ve outlined the top three trends related to video engagement that we’ve seen during the pandemic and tips for how to use this information to implement a more strategic video plan this year. All data referenced is compared to Wistia data pulled from the prior year, 2019. Let’s dive in!

Video consumption is more ubiquitous than ever — and our data clearly supports this trend.

Before March of 2020, Wistia saw an 18% increase in hours watched per week from 2019 to 2020. Hours watched represents the average number of hours of video content consumed per week across all of our customers.

We started 2019 with an average of 2.2M hours watched per week. This increased to an average of 2.6M hours at the beginning of 2020.

Since early March of 2020, we’ve seen a year over year increase of 120%. The average weekly hours watched increased drastically from 2.6M to 4.6M — peaking at 5.7M during the week of April 27th.

This increase means that people are watching more video content on our platform than ever before.

Additionally, before March of 2020, Wistia saw a 31% increase in weekly video plays from 2019 to 2020. This represents the number of times a video was played in a given week.

The number of average weekly video plays was 1.6M at the beginning of 2019, which increased to 2.1M at the beginning of 2020.

Since early March, that number has increased by 65% compared to the same time last year. This means that viewers are actively engaging with video content at a much higher rate than they were before the pandemic.

This increase in engagement has created a huge opportunity for SMBs to connect with consumers through well-marketed content. How can you engage your audience with video? From video voicemails for personalized sales outreach to teaser videos on social media — the options are only limited to your imagination. If you’re looking for where to get started, check out these 15 business video examples for inspiration.

Many organizations and industries have pivoted to relying heavily on video for communication and other essential business functions, which has leveled the playing field for SMBs.

Quarantine and work-from-home mandates have forced marketers and non-marketers alike to become creators and embrace constraints to produce great work — and many have realized that you don’t need a professional set up to produce high-quality video and audio content. Just look at Saturday Night Live — a highly planned and produced comedy show that pivoted to creating the entire weekly show from home.

Businesses have embraced these challenges with video content from home, conveying a level of authenticity that’s been quite welcomed. This trend of making video more accessible has led to an increase in the total volume of video uploaded to Wistia.

Before March of 2020, Wistia saw a 42% increase in weekly video uploads from 2019 to 2020. This number averaged 121K at the beginning of 2019 and increased to 172K at the beginning of 2020.

Since early March, the year over year increase has jumped to 120%. We’re now seeing an average of 280K videos uploaded to Wistia each week.

If you’ve been considering dipping your toes into the video waters, there’s no time like the present. Check out our free Beginner’s Guide to Video Production series to get started.

Small business leaders are some of the savviest and most resourceful leaders out there. When an opportunity comes knocking, they answer the door.

Before March of 2020, Wistia saw a 17% increase in weekly account creations from 2019 to 2020. This number averaged 2.9K at the beginning of 2019 and increased to 3.4K at the beginning of 2020.

Since early March, the year over year increase has jumped to 85%. We’re now seeing an average of 5K Wistia accounts created each week.

When signing up for Wistia’s services, a majority of small business leaders have noted they have more of a need to store and share videos since the pandemic began. These types of customers tend to be starting their video marketing program from scratch, recognizing that every business moving forward will have some aspect of digital engagement.

For example, SMBs can now host well-produced virtual events that are much more affordable and easy to execute compared to a live, in-person event. From small-scale webinars to large-scale conferences, we’ve seen the full spectrum of virtual events.

In addition to events, many companies are getting creative with how they reach their audiences. We’ve seen an uptick in sales teams using video as an outreach and communications tool versus in-person meetings. We’ve also seen creators of all kinds — school teachers, exercise instructors, entertainers, and more adopt a video-first strategy.

Creativity doesn’t stop just because marketers are working from home. As we create a new future, brands are in a position to reach their audiences in new and authentic ways.

Our data confirms that marketers are working harder than ever to create content that is appealing to their consumers–meeting them where they are through well-executed video content.

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How to Promote Your Podcast With Email

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When it comes to growing an audience for your brand’s new podcast, tapping into your email and marketing experience is the best place to start. If you’re building a new list from scratch, you can grow your email subscriber list by utilizing your existing marketing channels to spread the word.

On the other hand, if you already have an existing database of people who love the content you create, you can hit existing relevant lists while also growing a dedicated inventory for your show!

In this post, we’ll share how you can leverage your audiences differently and give you best practices for promoting your podcast via email. Let’s start getting your podcast in front of the right folks!

Your show’s subscribers are the folks you’ll email regularly about teasers, new episode releases, exclusive content, and more. These people are highly qualified because they have opted-in to receive news about your show! We’ll cover how you can grow this type of list where your podcast lives, on your actual podcast with a call to action, and across your social media channels.

Ask people to subscribe wherever your podcast lives

If your podcast is on streaming sites like Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Overcast, you should include extra information about your show to help build a direct relationship with listeners. Profiles about the show hosts and guests, show episode notes, and full episode transcripts are just the beginning!

Including information on your website about your podcast doesn’t hurt either. Get creative and think of different ways to provide value, like with a show “starter kit” for new listeners or by including other content formats, like related videos and blogs, on the same page.

Be sure to focus on the value your show will provide your audience, and include an email collector for listeners to subscribe to stay in the loop about future releases, show news, and exclusive content.

Include a CTA on your show

Another great place to remind listeners to subscribe to your podcast? During your actual show! If you include a call to action at the end of your podcast, you’ll catch listeners who made it all the way to the end of your show — folks who are already super engaged and the most likely to want more. For listeners who found you on streaming sites instead of your website, suggesting the next step during your show might be the only opportunity you have to get them to subscribe directly.

For example, at the end of our new original podcast, Talking Too Loud, we say, “Listen to Talking Too Loud wherever you listen to podcasts. And hey, rate and review us wherever you listen. And check out more content from Wistia Studios at Wistia.com.”

Another example of a podcast including CTAs on their show includes How I Built This with Guy Raz. At the end of his show Guy says, “To see our full interview you can go to facebook.com/howibuiltthis. And if you want to see all of our past live interviews you can find them there or at youtube.com/npr.”

To sum it up, your CTA could be any next steps you’d like your listeners to take. Both of these examples don’t outright tell folks to subscribe, but lead people to places where they can discover more about your brand (and where they can take the leap to subscribe for more content).

Spread the word on social media

You should also use your existing social media channels to promote your podcast and find listeners who could lead to new subscribers. Use clips and content teasers to give people a taste of what your podcast is about — pique their interest! Social media is a great way to drive people to where your podcast lives and entice them to subscribe to your show.

Here’s an example of a Twitter post on Wistia’s account promoting Talking Too Loud:

Some social media platforms, including Facebook and LinkedIn, even offer direct integrations with email marketing and CRM providers. These connections make it easy to build and nurture your lists without manually exporting and uploading contacts across platforms.

What should you send these folks?

Remember, email subscribers for your show are different from folks you include in your general marketing sends — it’s important to differentiate these sends and be hyper-targeted about your content. For the podcast email subscribers, focus primarily on promoting your show. To sweeten the pot, include exclusive content like behind-the-scenes clips and additional show content to this show subscriber list.


While you’re building a dedicated list of raving show fans, keeping your existing database informed is also important. Whether these marketing lists exist for product updates or blog content, folks in these audiences might also be interested in your podcast’s unique content.

Your marketing automation and onboarding sequences can be a great place to start plugging your podcast — just make sure you’re not promoting your show right off the bat. Showcasing your podcast too early or too often in your email campaign could distract and take away from someone’s learning experience with your product.

Here’s an example of a callout we used in one of our blog content email newsletters for The Brandwagon Interviews podcast. Since this was a more broad list, we kept this section short and sweet and allowed the creative to steal the spotlight and drive traffic to our podcast page.


So, now you’ve got a solid plan in place to promote your podcast via email. But what does a great podcast email look like? And what types of emails should you be sending for your show? Check out a few examples of emails we’ve sent to support our very own shows!

New Show Announcement

Build excitement and anticipation for your new podcast by sending out an announcement email. This is a great place to leverage your existing email lists — either by sending a dedicated email or by including the announcement in a newsletter-style send.

Alternatively, you could get ahead of the curve by collecting emails before launch and then send an announcement to your dedicated show list.

Here’s an example of an email we sent to announce Talking Too Loud:

New Episode Announcement

Keep your listeners in the loop on an ongoing basis by sending out emails for new episodes. These emails can be short and sweet. It’s also important to send these emails consistently to your audience. The email cadence for announcements should follow your show cadence. Showcase your show guest (if you have one), craft a compelling preview for the episode, and drive folks to listen.

Here’s an example of what we typically send for Talking Too Loud:


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