December 04 2014 10:51 AM
YouTube has announced that it has revised its 'hit counter' so it can continue to provide statistics that are already in the billions. But this is the clearest example yet that much online measurement is still based in the last decade.
YouTube users, musicians and even we humble B2B marketers are obsessed with statistics. And rightly so. If we can't measure, we can't improve, and digital marketing enables us to put a figure against every activity, whether number of views, unique visitors, shares, trends, averages and so on.
But the recent announcement from YouTube shows that we're getting it wrong.
YouTube's principal measurement is of the total views. Since it was posted. In the case of Gangnam style, we are talking a few years. But there are YouTube videos up there since February 2005. And as YouTube approaches its tenth birthday, you'd have thought it would no longer be putting so much emphasis on such a generalised measurement.
Two billions views means nothing, because they could have happened any time since 2005, when the Internet was a very different place. Who would judge any kind of product or brand performance on a ten-year total? I know YouTube has access to much more granular information. Of course it does, and it is generating revenue from selling this to advertisers. But if I was YouTube I'd be tempted to stop doing the meaningless total count.
In fact, why not use the opportunity to stress YouTube's dominance of online video by creating the ultimate measurement of influence. The YT factor. It might vary over time to reflect current performance. They could even follow Google's lead and keep the algorithm secret in order to control the various parties vying for the No.1 slot.
Either way, I think it's time we stopped using 2005 stats in 2014 analysis. And YouTube are such savvy marketers that I'm sure they're on the case...