Remember the first movie you ever saw? Many youngsters are introduced to the cinematic arts via a Disney or Nickelodeon vehicle, but for some odd reason my parents took me to see Woody Allen’s Love and Death. Probably because they couldn’t get a babysitter. Now in my dotage, I’ve become quite the Woody Allen fan and this flick is among my favorites, but much of Allen’s clever wordplay, existential musings and political sarcasm was lost on the seven-year-old me. I walked into the lobby halfway through the film and played with my Hot Wheels cars until the movie was over. (Yes, people used to let their kids out of their sight in the 1970s. Most of us survived.). Anyhow, whatever money they paid for my ticket was wasted. I wonder if my parents were wasted too — what were they thinking taking a young child to see a Woody Allen movie?

Fast forward 35 years and people are still trying to get their money’s worth out of investments in entertainment, although now it’s online video. No doubt there is a lot of content streaming happening these days, but very few sites are doing a good job of tracking their ROV — their Return On Video. To wit, Google still has yet to figure out how to make ROV on their $1.6B investment in YouTube, which according to a recent Credit Suisse report, will lose an astounding $470M this year.

One company that “gets it” is Crackle, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). Crackle is one of hundreds of clients that recently migrated from HBX to SiteCatalyst. Formerly known as Grouper, Crackle is an online studio and network, streaming original programming. There is a fixed and rather high cost to developing video for the Web and like other video streaming sites, Crackle is advertising-supported. While HBX met their basic needs, SiteCatalyst has allowed them to track interaction with their content in new and highly actionable ways.

“With HBX, we could track Video Initiations, or starts,” says Rachel Scotto, WAA Board Member and Consultant to Sony Pictures. “That was OK for reporting to advertisers, but we wanted to expand our understanding of users’ level of engagement. We need to know if they’re actually watching the entire video; or just the first 10 seconds.” By working with her Omniture Implementation Consultant, Rachel placed Events that fired at 25%, 50% 75% and 100% completion of each clip. Below is a graphical view of how the data looks in SiteCatalyst.


“It’s especially important for us to be able to track video this way, because some of our clips are just a few minutes long, while others are over an hour,” says Rachel. “‘Time spent on video’ metrics don’t tell the full story. We also needed percent-completion metrics.”

So we solved one problem solved for Crackle, but there was another issue to address. Crackle needed to be able to group the various types of content and analyze completion ratios by content type. To accomplish this, her Omniture Consultant recommended another set of variables to describe whether the content was a Feature, part of a Series, etc. This allows Crackle to see which of their content categories are performing best and allows them to drill up into higher levels of abstraction or down into episodic analysis. The higher level view is shown in the screen shot below and no, your vision isn’t failing you, I blurred the actual data to protect the innocent.


Armed with these data, Crackle can now begin to track their ROV. “Having this type of information available helps us know what content to renew and what content to emphasize or de-emphasize,” says Rachel. “There is a lot of money and resources that go into creating these shows and now we can truly see how engaging our viewers find them.”

Ah, another happy customer who’s using their free HBX Migration hours to improve upon their former HBX implementation. As a longtime Web analyst and consultant myself I know we don’t’ always get it right the first time. There is a scene in Love and Death where Woody Allen’s cowardly character is about to engage in a duel that he has no interest in. “Wait!!!” he says. “There’s been a mistake! I know, I made it!” So whether it was a mistake, an oversight or an instance like Crackle’s where there is just new functionality you’re looking to introduce to your Web analytics program, think about how we can help you when you migrate. Go ahead and dream big, we’ve got a solution for you. And for goodness sakes, don’t take your children to see Bruno.

Cindy Dadon
Cindy Dadon

Great post. I'd like to learn more about video tracking, I've had several false starts with both basic and advanced implementation. -Cindy