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Saturday, August 27, 2011

How to Monetize and Increase Minutes, and Why Minutes Matter More Than Uniques

Advertisers and sponsors pay for impressions, the number of times their brand was exposed to a viewer. The more impressions generated from a live broadcast, the more money they are willing to pay.

Pop Quiz: Which broadcast would generate more revenue? The one with 20,000 uniques or the one with 7,000 uniques?

The answer?   It’s a trick question. In spite of the fact that unique views is the metric most in demand by event organizers, advertisers and producers, as a measurement of success it doesn’t reveal nearly enough information.

However, uniques alone doesn’t give nearly enough information about how many impressions occurred. Unlike a webpage, uniques views is not indicative of the total impressions generated in a live broadcasts. Throughout a viewing session, some viewers will see 3 ads, others 30 and others none. Measuring uniques doesn’t capture any of this information.

Consider the above scenario. It’s possible that 20,000 viewers watched for an average of 2 minutes while the 7,000 viewers watched on average for 20. If this were the case, the second audience is actually 2 times more valuable to sponsors and advertisers because as a whole they had 2 times as long to be exposed.

Adequately measuring the value of a live broadcast to sponsors requires a better, more comprehensive metric: Minutes.

What is “MINUTES”?

Minutes is the total amount of time watched by all the viewers of a live broadcast. For example, if a blogger has two viewers, xxx, who watches for 5 minutes, and yyy, who watches for 40 minutes, the total minutes for that blogger is 45. In original example, we can calculate the in the first blogger to total minutes was 40,000 (20,000 viewers x 2 mins/viewer) while the second was 140,000 (7,000 viewers x 20 mins/viewer).

As you can see, the advantage of this metric is that it captures both the number of uniques and their engagement in one simple number. Simply put, if you want to compare apples to apples, this is the metric you should be using.


One of the challenges of monetizing live online broadcasts is that you have no idea exactly how many impressions your live stream’s commercials generated. However, unlike with unique views, with minutes you can easily approximate the number of impressions that your live broadcast generates. To do this, you need two other numbers: Total Commercials and total broadcast running time. If you recorded your event, simply sit down and watch it again to collect the necessary information.

Once you have those numbers, the formula is easy:

Minutes x Total Number of Ads / Total Program Running Time = Impressions

Remember, sponsors and advertisers pay for impressions. The more impressions that your broadcast generates, them more value your live stream has. That’s a powerful statistic that’s not available if you calculate uniques alone.

Using Minutes to Get More Return

Growing minutes is pretty abstract, and hard to plan for. Indeed, I think that is one of the appeals of using uniques to compare broadcasts: it’s easily understood, easy to plan for and easy to measure. However, when you combine uniques with minutes, you can calculate another elusive but easily understood metric that will further empower you to grow your live stream: Average Viewing Time (AVT). While uniques tends to measure the success of your marketing and distribution strategies, AVT helps you measure the quality of your program. The more successful your program, the longer people watch, the more ads they see and the more value you create.

You can easily calculate AVT by

AVT = Total Minutes / Unique Viewers

Looking at all three individually, you can glean an enormous amount of information about your event. If you have a ton of uniqes, but low engagement, then you know you need to work on creating more reasons to stay engaged. If the opposite is true, high engagement, but low uniques, then you have an interesting event, but you need to pull in more viewers.

Since its relatively easy to create strategies focusing on either one of those goals, you can easily evaluate if your strategies are succeeding.

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