Is it possible to get a de-duplicated count of video viewers and watch time across social-media platforms?
Tubular Labs, a digital-video research and measurement firm, thinks it can crack that nut — and it has pulled in more media partners to collaborate on developing standards for tracking viewership across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.
Viacom, Ellen DeGeneres’ Ellen Digital Network and Corus Entertainment have joined Tubular’s Global Video Measurement Alliance (GVMA) initiative. They join initial partners BuzzFeed, Vice Media and Group Nine Media.
It has an official-sounding name, but the GVMA is not a trade association or a standards-setting body. Rather, it’s designed as a collaborate project to define what cross-platform social viewing metrics should look like, said Allison Stern, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Tubular Labs.
“Step 1 was to define the problem in the marketplace, and step 2 was to bring folks together to solve it,” Stern said. “It’s not impossible to solve. You just need to get everyone together to solve it.”
Why couldn’t Tubular Labs develop these measurement metrics by itself? “The thought of it is, this is bigger than us,” Stern said. “We are not trying to solve something in a vacuum. We’re truly trying to let the industry drive the development of this.”
The media partners that have joined Tubular’s GVMA are encouraged the effort will produce a meaningful way to track social video views.
“As we continue to invest in audience development and original premium programming from our flagship brands, we look forward to working with the Global Video Measurement Alliance to establish unified methods of measurement for social video,” Kelly Day, president of Viacom Digital Studios, said in a statement.
Michael Riley, GM of Ellen Digital Ventures, added, “Tubular Labs has been a crucial solution for reporting to our partners on content effectiveness and video performance. We’re excited to participate in the GVMA and this next step towards the unification of global content measurement, allowing us to fully understand, interpret and activate our extensive cross-platform global social reach.”
Since the GVMA launched in January 2019, the companies have been working in closed-door meetings, reviewing technical challenges and co-developing content measurement solutions with the Tubular Labs data science and engineering teams.
The first two new global, cross-platform reach and engagement metrics to come out of the GVMA initiative are those to measure de-duplicated unique viewers and minutes watched. When applied alongside social video metrics of views, comments, shares and followers, according to Tubular, the new metrics will finally provide the full picture of what people are watching and how they engage with content.
GVMA partners will have early access to the metrics through the summer. Stern said Tubular plans release to actual numbers on de-duplicated viewers and watch time starting in the third quarter of 2019.
The difficult technical problem will be how the metrics handle de-duplication of viewers. Stern declined to say how Tubular or the GVMA partners are planning to tackle the issue of how to track unique viewers across multiple services. “That’s literally at the core of this,” she said. “We have put that in the hands of the GVMA founders to figure out.”
“The Holy Grail is de-duplication and viewing numbers across all platforms,” Stern said. “Nielsen and comScore are spending time on the problem of de-duping TV and digital, and long term we would love to partner with others to measure de-duped audience across digital, TV and social.”
Tubular’s new metrics in association with the GVMA are the first of their kind for social video, said Howard Shimmel, president of Janus Strategy & Insights and former chief research officer at Turner. “These metrics have existed for digital websites forever, and this is the first move towards parity for the research community,” he said.
Founded in 2012, Tubular Labs counts more than 250 customers, including broadcasters, publishers, and brands. The company measures 5 billion videos, 400 million video consumers, 13 million creators, 150,000 brands and 1 million sponsored videos across platforms.