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