YouTube Studio: better insights or a work in progress?

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Will YouTube Studio's new metrics be better for marketers?

In June of last year, YouTube announced that Creator Studio was about to change. A beta version named YouTube Studio was undergoing testing with hundreds of thousands of users – or should I say ‘creators’.

After nine months of nurturing their new baby, YouTube Studio was unveiled last week. Promises of efficiency, empowerment and increased joy, packaged with new features, metrics and insight. The increased data commitment has been played-up by YouTube.

But did the much anticipated promises deliver? Well, sort of.

YouTube Studio features include three new metrics: Impressions; Impressions Click-Through Rate; Unique Viewers. YouTube says these will give us better understanding of video performance with the aim of helping us produce more impactful video.

What’s an Impression? It’s when a viewer sees one of your video thumbnails; Impressions tell us the potential reach of our videos. It’s an ‘opportunity to view’.

What’s Impressions Click-Through Rate? Simply put, it’s the percentage of Impressions that turned into a video view.

What’s a Unique View? Well, to quote YouTube, it shows us “the estimated number of different people who watch our videos over a period of time.”

And there lies one of my issues. Data should not be estimated. We should be able to know the difference between a unique view and a repeat view. Why is YouTube estimating metrics? As for the ‘opportunity to view’ this just feels like a return to a time when we couldn’t accurately measure irrefutable data. perhaps it’s just me, as I’ve always hated fluffy measurements. In my PR and creative agency days I was forced to peddle PRVs and ‘Opportunities to See’. I hated both.

YouTube’s intent of delivering better insight and metrics should be applauded. It’s a key facet of success for other social media channels and absolutely is the direction they should be taking their Studio platform. Data that helps to evolve the production quality and impact of our videos is welcomed. I just can’t help but feel like this is a work in progress, rather than a refined proposition that’s ready to roll.

I’ll explain why: YouTube tell us that if we’re seeing a low percentage of Impressions convert to Impressions Click-Through Rate, then our thumbnail and title require work. That may be correct in some cases, but we can’t ignore how busy some pages are with thumbnails. Watch a video through to completion and then see how many thumb nails are served to you. It’s busy. Undoubtedly, Impressions will be recorded when users haven’t seen our thumbnails. To be fair though, the same criticism could be made of other social media channels.

Clearly, the Impressions Click-Through Rate is a useful metric. Being able to asses video performance will be insightful. I’m just not sure we needed the Impressions metric.

Now for the good news: we’re excited about YouTube Studio Dashboard – the single view of your data, insights and news. We’ll see three pieces of insight here:

Video Snapshot: A snapshot of our latest video performance, versus past videos – over the same period of time. Quickly, we’ll be able to ascertain if we’ve a production that is resonating, or if refinements are required. This should help us do more of what works, and learn from what isn’t.

Personalised Recommendations: YouTube says this will surface Creator Academy content based on our specific needs. Over time, we’ll also see insight into why certain videos perform better than others. Again, this will help with refinement and development.

News: Dynamic news and community information that is served to us. Meaning we don’t have to discover news, it finds us.

We expect Video Snapshot and Personalised Recommendations to be a real hit with users and the single view definitely receives a thumbs up. It’s just a shame we can’t be as positive about the new data metrics.

Data is resolute. The challenge with data is that it’s sometimes unstructured, requiring a framework to organise and help make the unstructured, structured. Data isn’t, and should never be estimated.

There is no denying that YouTube is onto something with their direction for YouTube Studio. In its current state though, it should be in production, rather than distributed for release. After nine-months of testing, you have to ask who was testing the platform, and why haven’t these basic flaws been flagged sooner?

As my old school tutor would say: “a good effort, but work still to be done!”

Colin Jacobs is managing director of Immediate Future

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