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Unwrapping Social platforms: no more black boxes

Presenting metrics that matter and insights you should take into 2019

Happy holidays from the Pex team. In the spirit of the season, we decided to give you the gift of…data! The perfect stocking stuffer.

In 2018, Pex has been working with leading brands and media companies to help address their social video analytics needs on digital. A common pain point we hear is that analysts, marketers, and other decision makers are frustrated by the walled gardens of information they are forced to operate in. Their patchwork of single platform tools creates scattered data across their analytics stack, failing to generate proper insights to drive business outcomes.

We want marketers to focus on what matters, not wasting valuable time pulling reports from one platform to the next and still not having answers to the questions they value. Pex is building a centralized product suite that leverages our global warehouse of social content across all (40+) platforms directed by your objectives. We’re consolidating redundancies and building a self-serve product suite that captures your brand’s entire social performance with tools to answer measurement, market share, and contextualize platforms in real time.

By now you are in the midst of holiday marketing crunch, relentlessly working to grab consumer eyeballs across your campaigns. To shed some light on this period, Pex analyzed the uploads hitting each platform over the holiday season to understand how activity on each social platform changes throughout this time. Later we’ll dive into some specific holiday songs to see how they are performing and propagating new UGC (user-generated content).

What is the most festive site on the internet?

Pex took a look at all uploads over the 2017 holiday season and flagged those that contained holiday themes.

Imgur stands alone with holiday themes appearing in over 7% of all videos posted between December 1st and January 6th. Below we break it down day by day and compare it to YouTube and Twitter for reference.

Imgur maintains a healthy level of holiday content throughout December and peaks on Christmas Day itself with ⅓ of all video posts featuring holiday themes. After a few days rest, the festivities spike again on New Year’s Day.

Marketers may want to consider adding Imgur into their holiday marketing mix given the site’s unique spirit around the holidays. Imgur caters to the season by facilitating a site-wide secret Santa gift exchange. Users go all out crafting thoughtful gifts for complete strangers, and posts from Imgurians unwrapping their secret Santa gifts are viral hits on the site. Even celebrities have gotten involved and given some amazing gifts. Must have been nice to have Bill Gates as your secret Santa.

Another holiday tradition on the site was started 3 years ago when the user @phsnyc started donating his frequent flyer miles to fellow users who couldn’t afford to fly home for the holidays. Now, Imgur supports his annual effort and users vote on who will receive his free flights.

How do site upload rates change over the holidays?

Beyond holiday-themed posts, the overall usage of social sites changes throughout the season. There are some general trends but also site-specific holiday impacts. Understanding these can help refine your own holiday marketing campaigns.

We took a look at the rate of all video uploads to the Big 4 social sites over the holiday period. Their average uploads are as follows:

In 2017 YouTube remained the most active site for video uploads at roughly 3x more uploads than any of the other three sites, but compared to the year prior, that gap is closing.

Those numbers show scale and growth rates, but also of interest is examining the day to day fluctuations in activity observed over the holidays. There are some general trends, but each site does not react the same to the season. Below are the daily performance charts for each site over the 2017 season:

YouTube is the most consistent throughout the holidays as it doesn’t experience large peaks and valleys. Saturdays and Sundays are the most active days with Sunday, December 3rd showing the strongest deviation above the average at 12% more uploads than normal. Christmas Day itself is the quietest at 9% fewer posts than the season’s average.

Instagram is quite consistent with peak activity each Sunday, and this trend continued the Sunday of Christmas Eve. Users were even more active on Christmas Day which is a phenomenon unique to Instagram. The usage lull the day after on the 26th, however, is common to other sites. Also in line with other sites was peak activity on December 31 (19% above average), while January 2nd was least active (15% below average).

Twitter doesn’t display the recurring weekly fluctuation seen by the other major platforms as its day-to-day usage is fairly consistent. It does show the familiar holiday season min and max with New Year’s Eve at 25% above average and December 26th 16% below.

Facebook activity is the most variable. It experiences localized peaks each Friday, while the global peak is on New Year’s Eve with 39% more video posts than normal for the season. The day after Christmas is 20% more dormant than average.

Holiday Song Insights

Separate from the high-level holiday investigation, we decided to take a look at a collection of the most famous holiday songs and see how they have been performing this 2018 season. One fact that emerged is that while listening started to ramp up in November, the first Sunday of December is the day that the world gets in the spirit with holiday music. The trend exists in all videos analyzed, and below are visuals of daily views from a select few holiday music videos on YouTube to illustrate the point:

We decided to dig deeper into one of the most popular songs this time of year — Mariah Carey’s smash hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You”. The YouTube version of the song has earned over 492 million views to date, but that stat only tells part of the story. Pex found over 242,000 copies uploaded to social platforms around the net which have generated an additional 1.6 billion views!

Looking across those 242,000 copies, Pex identifies the most popular moments of the song. Initially, the story is intuitive as the most popular moment occurs when the energy picks up and the song gets going at the 54 second mark. Each subsequent moment of the song becoming less and less popular from there. But the story became more nuanced when the analysis is isolated to copies that use the visuals of the music video, not simply the audio. Those findings are visualized below.

The opening minute is quite popular. This is where the stage is set that Mariah doesn’t care about presents, but instead only wants you for Christmas. Then at moment 1 we hit the peak popularity of the video where the driving drums have entered, the energy ramps up, and she declares “I don’t want a lot of Christmas, there is just one thing I need”.

Moment 2 is the next spike in popularity which leads up to the hook of the song saying “I just want you for my own, more than you could ever know,” “make my wish come true, all I want for Christmas is you!”

We hope these insights brought you digital media-obsessed boys and girls the gifts you dreamt for this holiday season. If you’re hoping for more, then feel free to reach out to jolly old St. Pex. Our workshop has been busy developing new analytic products for 2019 to address digital media questions small and large alike. (puns stop here…we promise)

We’re launching the first release of our analytics suite in Q1 to illuminate the performance of singular videos that garner UGC uploads, providing a collective global social measurement.

We look forward to sharing our new products as they launch. In the meantime feel free to reach out to learn how Pex might be able to facilitate your work with social video.

Seasons greetings,

The Pex team

Want to learn more?

Get in touch at hello@pex.com to see how we can help you measure your content across digital, inform you on what you’re missing, and map it to your objectives.

We look forward to hearing from you in 2019!

All I Want For Christmas Is You GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Charlie bit me — The staying power of one of YouTube’s original viral videos

Where were you on May 22nd, 2007? It was a simpler time. Apolo Anton Ohno won dancing with the stars, Guatemala ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, and a humble home video of wee baby Charlie biting his brother’s finger was uploaded to a relatively young video sharing website.

When Charlie bit my finger was published over 11 years ago, YouTube was a different place. The site had only recently been purchased by Google (Nov 13, 2006), and was just over 2 years removed from its very first video upload (“Me at the zoo” April 23, 2005).

It garnered millions of views, and became YouTube’s most viewed video, holding that title until music videos began dominating the top viewed list. So Charlie’s penchant for digital mastication must now be long forgotten, right? Even if the world was bizarrely reminded of Charlie in November of 2017, when it was revealed that a copy of the video was found on Osama Bin Laden’s computer, it’s been too long.

Times have changed, the news cycle moves at ludicrous speed, who’s thinking about little Charlie any longer? Well yesterday, 14,141 people thought about Charlie! Check out its activity over the past 3 months: it typically gets 19,406 views a day!

This continued growth has driven the video to accrue over 865 million views to date. And people are not only watching the video, they are also still using it in their own original content. As a random example — just the other day Pex found a zombified ‘duet’ of the famous bite scene posted by @deter_the_dub on TikTok. Countless others riff off it, or simply re-upload exact copies to their social media.

Well, not countless actually. Pex is counting as we track the performance of all videos uploaded to 23 different social platforms, and check for shared content among them. Today there are over 191,000 videos on the internet that include some if not all of the original Charlie bit me video. With 935 million cumulative views across those uploads, the views on copied content now surpass views on the original video by 70 million.

The top viewed videos with Charlie bit me content are:

Charlie bit my finger — again! has proven its staying power and arguably deserves a spot on YouTube’s Mount Rushmore. It’s one of the site’s viral videos founding fathers. To this day it continues to be copied, referenced, and viewed by a new generation. And perhaps most importantly for Charlie’s family, it continues to generate advertising revenue. Enjoy that college fund, Charlie!

State of the YouTube Address — an overview of YouTube usage and growth

Remember 2006 when Time’s Person of the Year was You? Not an inspiring humanitarian, or loathsome dictator. It was me and you. Some considered the selection perfect, others said it was a cop-out.

Personally, I thought that Marco Materazzi should have been 2006’s Person of the Year for taking that epic head butt from Zinedine Zidane and helping my Italians to their 4th World Cup title.

Zidane GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Zinedine Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi during an altercation about which player has the more ridiculous alliterative name.

But TIME didn’t pick Marco, it went with “You”.

The selection was an acknowledgement that, thanks to the internet, everyday individuals around the world had the ability to gain exposure, wield influence, and generally take the world away from the “Great Man” theory of history.

One can’t help but notice that TIME’s cover image is specifically a depiction of YouTube. The video hosting platform was relatively young at the time, but was already making major waves and had been purchased by Google less than two months prior to TIME’s person of the year publication.

So here at Pex we decided to leverage our technology to provide a “State of the YouTube Address”. Here are a few high-level insights into the size of the platform, its usage, and growth.

Current YouTube Overview:

By May of 2018 YouTube had just celebrated its 13 year anniversary. From its first upload of “Me at the zoo” on April 23, 2005 the platform has grown to host over 4.2 billion videos combining for over 22 trillion views.

Breaking down these 4.2 billion videos by category gives insight into the broad utilization of the site. Here are the platform’s 10 largest categories, and what percentage of YouTube video uploads and views fall into each.

Stats for categories outside of the top 10 are grouped into Other

By far the most videos have been uploaded under the ‘People & Blogs’ category, while the largest garner of views is ‘Music’. However, it needs to be noted that ‘People & Blogs’ is the default category when uploading to YouTube. So it’s likely that a great many people uploading content don’t bother setting the category and thus inflate ‘People & Blog’ figures.

Category Insights:

Changing YouTube trends are seen when looking at the videos uploaded to each category by year:

The rise of the ‘People & Blogs’ category began in 2013, and grew to account for over half of all YouTube uploads in 2016. The ‘Gaming’ category has steadily been on the rise since its inception in 2007 and overtook the ‘Music’ category in 2015 for the 2nd most videos uploaded that year. Thus far in 2018 ‘Gaming’ has accounted for nearly 1 in 5 videos uploaded to YouTube.

We also dug into category consumption by age group. The below chart is built from a panel sample of YouTube consumption over 2 weeks in March of 2018. It displays the percentage of all YouTube consumption coming from each category and age group.

While overall YouTube usage skews towards younger generations, it’s clear that the average audience age changes by category. The four biggest categories (Music, Entertainment, People & Blogs, Gaming) all skew younger. Gaming has the largest skew with 81% of consumption coming from those under 35.

Education, Howto & Style, News & Politics, and Sports all balance out nearer 50/50 consumption between the under 35 and 35+ populations.

Video Length Growth:

Not only are YouTube users uploading more videos than ever, but their videos are getting longer as well. As the graph below illustrates, the average YouTube video length has increased from just over 2 minutes in 2005 to over 15 minutes today.

With increasing uploads, and increasing video length just how much content is being uploaded to YouTube right now? 563 hours per minute! To consume that much content you’d need to watch all of Game of Thrones 8 times, and then come down off that octo-throne-binge with a casual watching of every Harry Potter movie, and then the LOTR and Hobbit trilogies (director’s cuts of course).

This is a staggering figure. If the GoT-Potter-LOTR binge watch analogy didn’t put it in perspective, then think of it this way — in 2017 Netflix planned to produce 1,000 hours of original content and budgeted around 6 billion dollars to do so. Now consider that in the 2 minutes you’ve been reading this article more than 1,000 hours of content have been uploaded to YouTube!

That breakneck pace is only accelerating. The graph below shows how the pace of content uploaded to YouTube has grown exponentially since its inception.

2018 YouTube Growth:

YouTube’s incredible growth is only highlighted by examining the first 4 months of 2018.

At the end of 2017 there were over 3.8 billion videos on YouTube. By May of 2018, over 400 million additional videos had been published! That’s over 10% growth in videos hosted by YouTube in just 4 months.

YouTube is growing even faster in terms of video views. Over the same 4 months there have been over 3 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) views on YouTube. That represents a 16% increase in all time YouTube views.

Breaking down video and view growth by category, one can continue to gain insights into the evolving usage of the platform. The table below shows the growth each category has experienced over the first 4 months of 2018 according to videos uploaded, and video views. The column ‘% Evergreen’ shows what percentage of new views came from viewing old content published prior to 2018.

The Gaming category is growing fastest in terms of video uploads, while People & Blogs is gaining the most steam according to viewership.

% Evergreen backs up our intuition on several categories. We observed earlier that the Music category accounts for 25.8% of total YouTube views, but only 9% of uploaded videos. That observation is backed up by the fact that in 2018, 83% of views of the Music category came from videos published prior to 2018.

Sports and News & Politics on the other hand have the lowest % Evergreen scores. This makes sense given the current events nature of those categories. The growing Gaming category also has a low % Evergreen score as viewers are tuning in to see only the latest games and strategies.

At Pex we work with analysts, content creators, curators, marketers, and mavericks. All of which are interacting with and trying to understand their content’s place in the evolving ecosphere of YouTube and dozens of other social and content hosting platforms. We hope this “State of the YouTube Address” helps you to see the YouTube forrest for the trees. If you have questions we can address in a future post then let us know. Or if you’re curious as to how Pex could help your business, then drop us a line.

You like me! Analysis of user engagement with videos on the world’s biggest social sites

Congratulations, you’ve just uploaded a video to the internet! You might just be steps away from being invited by James Corden to talk about your zanny video!

Hopefully things go that way for you, but if not then how should you feel about your video views and engagement metrics? Obviously the more views the better, and you probably have a gut sense of what success looks like. But what about user engagement? The likes, shares, comments and god forbid… dislikes [dramatic music]. 100% of your moms will like the video, but then there are the other 7 billion humans, and a handful of crafty chimps to contend with…

So what level of engagement is normal? What benchmarks can help to understand viewer sentiment on a particular platform or style of video?

We leveraged Pex’s unprecedented access to video data across the web to quantify the norms for video engagement across the major social networks. We examined nearly 2 billion unique videos and songs uploaded across 18 audiovisual sharing platforms. Here are the results from ‘The Big Four’ (YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook):

User Engagement — The Big Four

Not all likes are created equal

People are liking videos on Instagram as if it was going out of style. More than 1 out of 10 viewers of an Instagram video will leave a like before moving on, which is an astronomical percentage given that on YouTube, less than 1 in 100 viewers will drop a thumbs up on average. This seems to confirm the social nature of Instagram, as opposed to the media-like consumption of YouTube videos by its users. Of course if you are looking at views per video, the average YouTube video has 16 times more views than the typical Instagram video. In terms of viewership, YouTube still dwarfs Instagram.

So if you’re pulling down 2 likes per 100 views on YouTube, or 3 likes per 100 on Twitter or Facebook, you should feel great. You’re doing twice better than average on those platforms. But if you’re only getting 5 likes per 100 views on sites like Instagram then you need to step up your game, or step up your friends.

Sharing is caring

Twitter, Facebook and a handful of other sites offer a ‘share’ feature enabling users to repost content for their connections to see. So on which platform should you expect the most shares? Facebook has the highest rate of sharing as 1.25% of video viewers opt to share the video. That is 1.6 times more common than a Twitter user opting to retweet a video.

Chatty Cathies

Instagram, Mixcloud, OK.ru, and Facebook. These four platforms all have the highest rate of comments (Not shown on the table are Mixcloud’s 0.39, and OK.ru’s 0.24 comment %). So if you’re looking for light banter then head on over to those sites. We’re sure the conversations will be reasoned and balanced.

Viewstyles of the Rich and Famous

After reflecting on our overall findings, we decided to see if these norms changed for the most popular videos. Do users engage differently with blockbuster content? Here is the same table, but only videos with over 1 million views are considered.

The bigger the views, the more viewers snooze

Across all 17 sites analyzed other than Twitter, users engage 22% less with 1M+ view count videos than they do with the average video. Twitter is the lone platform bucking this trend. It actually shows more activity on all engagement metrics leading to 34% more overall engagement than the average Twitter video.

Facebook too shows 13% less engagement overall on 1M+ videos thanks to sharp declines in likes and comments. Sharing, however, does increase on Facebook as users are 15% more likely to share 1M+ view count videos.

Haters Ball

The only thing people love more than love is hate. If we focus on YouTube, which category of videos has the most haters?

Below is the same breakdown but now aggregating sentiment by category for 720 million YouTube videos (roughly 10% of all videos on the site). To clarify the haters strength, we’ve added a metric we will call the “Sidious Ratio”. Named after Darth Sidious aka Emperor Palpatine who famously taught us to “let the hate flow through you”. Sidious Ratio = Dislikes/Likes aka how many dislikes you get per like aka how close you are to the dark side.

Jar Jar Binks Award

In the least shocking analytical conclusion of all time — the award for most hated YouTube category goes to News & Politics. It has a Sidious Ratio of 0.15 meaning for every 100 likes found in News & Politics, there are 15 dislikes. That’s over 2x more hateful than the YouTube average.

“Goooooood” — Darth Sidious

Game On

Gaming videos have by far the most engagement of all YouTube channels. And in one respect, videos in the Gaming category are just as hateful as News & Politics. They both have 0.08% of viewers leaving dislikes. Tied for the most hate per views of all categories. However Gaming, unlike News & Politics, has a massive amount of likes left on their videos as well. Gaming actually receives the most love with 1.9% of viewers leaving a like. So despite the hate, Gaming actually has the lowest Sidious Ratio because the haters are being drowned out by the lovers. How beautiful.

Lastly, the award for the category with the lowest engagement goes to Autos & Vehicles, with only 0.52% of views resulting in a like, dislike, or comment. No need for small talk, let’s get back to wrenching.

Those are just a few of our takeaways. What do you take away from this data? Pex is here to pull back the curtain on activity surrounding audiovisual files across the net, so let us know what you think and we can dig into your questions in a future post!