Kelly Sternaimolo | Feb 04, 2016
While view count may no longer be the prize metric of video marketing, it won't disappear entirely. Views continue to be a measure of a video's reach and popularity. So, for now, let's look at "views" and dive in to see how views are defined and counted by major video and social media platforms.
The Media Rating Council and IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) define a video ad as viewable when “at least 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible on a screen for at least 2 consecutive seconds.” Each hosting or social media company will additionally set their own rules, algorithms, and processes to quantify a view, and validate the nature of views (i.e., if humans or bots viewed the video). It’s important to note that these rules and processes may differ for general video uploads vs. video ads.
YouTube is a leading resource for hosting, sharing, and promoting videos, as well as placing video ads. For general videos, the exact rules of what constitutes a view are not fully specified. This helps discourage users from artificially inflating view count.
Basically, a view is when a human (not a bot) has initiated video play and watched the video for a select amount of time. Some believe this "select amount of time" ranges from 10-30 seconds, and others suspect it’s a percentage based on the full length of the video. YouTube Ads, on the other hand, must be viewed for about 30 seconds to count as a view.
Facebook video ads auto-play without audio as a user scrolls through their feed. This makes measuring the intentional act of viewing a bit tricky. So, what qualifies as a video view? Facebook’s views are counted at 3 seconds, but Facebook’s analytics will also give you a count of views that were longer than 30 seconds.
Instagram allows videos up to 15 seconds (up to 30 seconds for ads). Instagram is owned by Facebook and, like Facebook, views are also counted after 3 seconds of viewing. Because Instagram videos play in a loop, views are counted by unique users only.
Twitter also counts a view at 3 seconds. In addition to this rule, Twitter also stipulates that the video pixels must be 100% in-view on a user’s device for the 3 seconds. This helps ensure that users that are slowly scrolling past an auto-play video aren't counted as a view.
Vimeo states that a view is counted when someone actually initiates play. Just like YouTube and other sites, the platform uses tracking to validate unique-users hitting play within a span of time. This minimizes the duplication of views from the same user within a specific timeframe.
In addition to the sites listed above, there are of course many other OVPs that allow you to monitor engagement analytics. With many of these platforms, a view is simply counted when the video is played. Frequently, the IP addresses of individual users are tracked to quantify unique views.
Concern about view count can differ with regard to where and how a video is being used. The cost of placing a video ad, for example, can be calculated based on views. And if your business has a popular YouTube video, those views can help your brand gain additional reach and recognition.
On the flip side, if you are using an OVP to host and evaluate videos used on your website or in email campaigns, your views will be dictated by inbound visits to your video or direct shares via email or website interaction. In that case, engagement and commerce-driving actions start to matter more than the number of video views.