When it comes to tracking Web shows on YouTube, it’s easy to look at view numbers, since they are listed alongside every video on the site. But when it comes to gauging how big an audience is for an entire series of clips or episodes, it’s tougher. Most of the time, creators simply add up views across multiple episodes and report some biggish, largely meaningless view count.
And while YouTube has promised some better metrics down the road, the startup analytics firm Tubular Labs says it has an answer now. The company, founded in June 2012, has launched Playlist, a new product promising to provide creators and advertisers with richer data on how groups of videos perform on YouTube.
The company claims that its AudienceGraph technology pulls data from over 1 billion social engagements—likes, comments, etc.—from 50 million videos on YouTube. Using that engagement data, Playlist can now provide creators and advertisers with metrics like the audience composition of a given Web series and the percentage of a particular target audience it reached over a period of time.
It can also provide more information on a show's viewers’ interests and preferences across YouTube. The idea is to help creators be more strategic about when to post new videos, or which other YouTube creators they might want to collaborate or exchange traffic with.
“Where Tubular can provide added value is competitive intelligence, and added audience insight and depth,” explained Allison Stern, the company’s co-founder and gm of media solutions. “We can take a show like Video Game High School and look at who its viewers are, when are they most engaged. We can also tell a creator what else their audience is watching when they’re not watching your content."
But the biggest value Tubular, which has received $3.1 million in angel and Series A financing, sees in Playlist is helping advertisers compare Web video and TV.
However, there’s a big challenge with that notion. Playlist doesn’t provide total viewers, which would allow a buyer to put the audience for say ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars against the audience for Awesomeness TV’s The Runaways.
That’s a long-term goal, says Stern. But right now Google keeps some of its viewer data private, she said, making total viewer numbers difficult to calculate. “That’s what everybody wants to know,” Stern said. Tubular’s best current approximation is tracking how many total viewers engage with Web series by either commenting, sharing or liking. Those numbers “provide a proxy for viewer data.”
Here's an example of the type of data Tubular crunches—a comparison of engagement rates for different types of content (comedy, sports, etc.) on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook: