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It’s The Views That Count, Right?

tv viewers

We’re always focused on huge numbers. Whether you jump back  to the era of worldwide multi-platinum hits, stop to ponder all that time you invested getting friends on MySpace, how holy the Like was a couple of years ago, or the current rush to get followers on Instagram, there’s always a huge focus on numbers.

However, akin to how a Facebook Like is a deceptive measure of one’s popularity, it’s important which number you focus on. On Facebook, the more important number is essentially how many people are talking about your page. Similarly, on YouTube, the views aren’t the most important number either; that honour goes to stats such as Average Percentage Viewed and Average View Duration. These stats embody that often-amorphous term “engagement.”

Viewer engagement is the key area which affects recommendations on YouTube and has a significant impact on your search ranking. How can you take advantage of this? One of the best ways is to “program the session.” This set of tactics helps you reach the strategic goal of gaining more engaged viewers and thence to growing your overall audience.

The first tactic in this group is to never link to a video watch page when promoting a video if you can help it. Always link to that video in a playlist. This keeps your primary goal intact — watch my important video — while helping along your greater goal of more viewer engagement. Playlists can be based on anything. If you’re a label, you might naturally playlist other videos from that artist. Or you may choose to playlist videos from similar artists (even those not your own). Really the goal here is to think about who will be watching the initial video and think about what they might wish to watch next. Even programming videos that don’t belong to you helps your engagement metrics.

Of course viewers are not always coming to videos at your direction. In fact, most videos on YouTube are still found via search, sharing, and recommendations. How do you program those sessions? Again, think about how people might be getting to your video. One way you can figure this out is to look in your video’s analytics and see where your viewers are coming from. If you find out a lot of them came from a link from a popular blog, for instance, on which you had another video featured, you could add an annotation linking to that other video. It’s likely viewers coming from there have seen or will be interested in it too. Of course, after they’ve watched that, you need to figure out what they might be interested in watching next!

Apart from these broad tactics, it’s also possible to use the new Welcome Video feature on YouTube’s One Channel to program the session. These videos are prime real estate to introduce viewers to your channel. Be it a mission statement, a list of artists, or more of a commercial spot, this video should show potential viewers what you’re about and what they can expect to find on your channel. This is also a great opportunity to drive them to that other content. Point out key playlists, artists, or videos and link through to them with annotations. Of course, don’t forget that the key goal of the Welcome Video is to get users to subscribe!

Another feature of the One Channel Welcome Video section is that once subscribed, a viewer will get personalized recommendations of what to watch next on your channel. You have some, though not a lot, of control over this experience and part of that control is an effort to… program the session! YouTube has engineered this section to take advantage of video metadata combined with the viewer’s habits watching your channel. For instance, this works great with episodic content. If a video is obviously part four of a series and a viewer watches it, the next time they come to your channel they will likely be suggested part five of that series. One way to translate this to music videos is to number them in chronological order in some area of the metadata (most likely the tags). If Artist X has 12 videos and you’ve tagged those as “video 1, video 2″ and so on, it’s likely that if they watch one in the series, the next will be recommended.

There are heaps more tactics and ways to think about increasing a viewer’s watch time, of which programming the session is merely one. My hope is that this broad overview with a specific example will help you discover your own effective tactics. If you have any to share, please do so in comments!

Embrace the YouTube Culture

Derpina REAL LIFE: The Musical on YouTube, AVbyteLast week a client related an anecdote that made me laugh and shake my head in disbelief. It went along these lines: traveling with a group of vastly-wealthy business folks, she listened as they spoke about taking advantage of YouTube’s popularity to make money. Lacking a creative bone in their bodies, these folks spoke about YouTube as if it were a stock market. It was all about buying and trading assets seemingly predicated on what they’d heard about the success of PSY.

It would be a disservice to say that what happened with PSY was easy. It involved a lot of planning, thought, and effort to see success. Certainly no one involved in the project knew they’d have the most popular video ever once they were done. I’d wager that wasn’t even the goal! Still, creating one fantastic and successful Pop music video isn’t terribly difficult on YouTube. The top 30 videos of all time are all Pop music videos. The VEVO service built over YouTube is also built over the mass-market musical machine. Making these videos successful is easy in the sense that how to do it is widely known and accounted for in the music industry. This is not helpful to the vast majority of artists, labels, and music business being done out there that isn’t Pop music.

While the basic fundamentals of YouTube are easy to understand, being a continuing YouTube success story is work. Work that’s largely unknown in the existing music system. It’s the execution of those fundamentals where you get bitten in the ass if you’re not careful. Days of video and miles of type have been created to explain video SEO (search engine optimization) and channel optimization. Advice on creating and executing ideas is centuries old. Being part of a scene, well, that should be in the DNA of any artist or record label, so what I’m about to walk you through should only be foreign in detail, not concept.

The scene aspect is where the music industry often falls short on YouTube, much like our millionaires above looking to make a buck on the latest thing will fail. One industry acquaintance of mine dismissively referred to “those YouTube people” during a discussion we were having about the service recently. While I didn’t have time in that particular discussion to make this point, I certainly can here. Those YouTube people are the future. They are the future of how the platform is used and ultimately how music will be successful there. It’s time to pay attention.

A good and relevant first stop for exploration is musician Jake Coco:

… Continue Reading

Welcome, Jeremy!

October 24, 2012 Orchard News 1 Comment

Jeremy Rosen, Director of Video Network ProgrammingIntroducing Jeremy Rosen, Director of Video Network Programming

Hello! I’m excited to be coming on-board. Most recently I was the head of Digital Operations at Roadrunner Records where I oversaw Digital Marketing, Product Development, and Web Development for six years for a roster of Metal and Hard Rock artists.

While I have over a decade of experience in Application Development and Digital Marketing, I come from a musical background. I’m a classically and jazz trained saxophonist and studied composition, performance and improvisation with Ralph Lalama and Frank Kimbrough.

For six years I was Co-Editor of Axes & Alleys, a well-known (in its niche) humor magazine. In my time as a writer and editor, I produced 40 magazine issues, short stories, five feature-length film scripts, and have filmed a television pilot. Obviously those didn’t get picked up as I’d be in another line of work now!

Before 2014 I plan to visit all seven continents (three to go). I like tacos and think that monotremes are cool.

My favorite musical artists include (in alphabetical order) Agalloch, Björk, Jackie McLean, Metric, and Shostakovich. I’m sworn to Metal, but not to the exclusion of all else.

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