There’s no doubt that online video viewership is exploding across popular platforms like Facebook, which reported 8 billion daily views in its latest earnings call, and Snapchat, which confirmed yesterday that it sees 6 billion video views every day.
And if these astronomic figures aren’t staggering enough on their own right, the speed at which they’re growing is more impressive still. For instance, Snapchat was reporting 4 billion daily views just last September, whereas Facebook said it had 4 billion views in April -- meaning views jumped 50 percent in a matter of months.
But even though the space is ripe with growth (digital video advertising is expected to clock $7.4 billion in revenue this year, according to eMarketer), such towering metrics can be slightly misleading in terms of actual reach and monetization.
For instance, a “view” on Facebook constitutes just three seconds of watch time. And as videos autoplay in newsfeeds, analysts have noted that the company’s reported figures are thus greatly inflated.
Same with Snapchat. Snapchat charges advertisers for “zero-second video views,” according to reports -- meaning that marketers are paying every time an ad loads, even if users don’t watch the video for a full second. (It should be noted that Snapchat videos can only be a max of 10 seconds.)
If standards of viewership are so vague, the thinking goes, then perhaps ads aren’t as valuable as the platforms are trying to tout.
To this end, YouTube, which has said in the past that it counts a view as roughly 30 seconds, stopped reporting daily viewership in 2012. Instead, the company tracks total hours watched in order to emphasize the fact that its viewers, it says, are uniquely engaged.
Nevertheless, it’s no doubt that Snapchat is on a fiery tear. The service has rolled out a handful of features in recent months to bolster growth. In addition to location and brand-based stickers and fast-forward and slo-mo features, Snapchat introduced lenses in September, which lets users illustrate Snaps with real-time sounds and special effects. Lenses can now also be sponsored by brands as a kitschy promotional tool.