December 7, 2010

Dirty web video secret #1: play rates

Chris Savage

Founder, CEO

Play rate: The percentage of unique visitors that click play when presented with the video.

One of the most important (and overlooked) aspects of video analytics is the play rate. The play rate of a video is much like the open rate for an email. If you have a poor play rate, then nobody is going to receive your message.

The factors that effect play rate are the video’s thumbnail, the placement of the video on the page, the size of the video, and the video’s context.

There isn’t any published data about play rates available, so we’ve decided to remedy that. We pulled data from across our entire customer base; this includes every sort of video imaginable: front page videos, videos on blogs, videos on landing pages, and video sent out to huge mailing lists. These videos are used for marketing, sales, training, entertainment, and everything in between.

The average play rate across the entire sample set was 16.9%. This means that just about 1 out of every 6 people who loads a page with a video watches it.

Now let’s take a look at a specific example, the front page video on our website.

Our front page video is a honking 950 x 360 pixel headliner. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.

It’s the first thing people see when they arrive at, and it’s an important part of the customer education process for us.

We get a 19% play rate our front page video, which is about 13% higher than the average play rate. This is interesting, but what really matters for us is what percentage of prospective customers are watching the video.

Around 30% of our visitors are customers logging in to their accounts, and the other 70% of visitors are prospective customers or folks just stopping by. We don’t expect existing customers to watch the front page video, so if we factor them out, we learn that about 30% of prospective customers watch the front page video.

The key to improving play rate is measuring it and then understanding your users. The better you understand their motivations, the easier it will become to make decisions that can improve play rate.

We want to cover your video analytics in one of our future posts. Fill out this form if you’d like to be featured.

About the Author: Chris Savage is the CEO and co-founder of Wistia. You can find him at @csavage and

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