Tubular Labs wants to tame the ‘Wild West’ of social video with new measurement standard


Tubular Labs has unveiled its TV-like measurement metric for social video, nine months after forming a working group to standardize the space.

The new time-based metric looks to equate a single view across social platforms. Allison Stern, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Tubular, said content creators can “lock in a view” at either three or 30 seconds, though 30 seconds is the norm as social videos continue to increase in length.

Content that comes in at less than 30 seconds is measured to completion, though Stern said Tubular Labs is more focused on measuring content that’s 30 seconds-plus.

For a single piece of content, Tubular Labs can apparently outline minutes watched, what audiences were reached and how that piece of content compared to other publishers, all information Stern said used to be guessed in the “Wild West” of social video.

“Those sorts of questions, which are standard for media planning, don’t really exist cross-platform in social right now,” said Stern. “We think brands and marketers are going to see immediate value from being able to understand social video audiences for media planning purposes.”

Right now the measurement standard is limited to YouTube and Facebook, and only available to members of the Global Video Measurement Alliance (GVMA) – the working group Tubular Labs co-founded to test social video measurement.

The alliance includes Viacom, Ellen Digital Network, Corus Entertainment, Vice, BuzzFeed, Group Nine, Media Chain, Discover and Brut.

Stern said GVMA will collectively look to extend the measurement product to other platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.

Stern added that the time-based measurement tool is soon entering an open beta for both media companies and marketers, as GVMA wants “represent both sides of ecosystem.”

Tubular Labs’ new tool can also apparently measure branded videos on social. Stern said the company is measuring videos brands upload individually; brand partnerships, such as Cheerios working with The Ellen Show; and content from brand studios, such as Red Bull.

“We are known for a popular TV show, but we’re also a digital brand with a significant fanbase who loves the new IP that we produce for digital,” said Alana Calderone, senior vice-president of brand content and partnerships at Ellen Digital Ventures. “The market needs measures that allow media companies to communicate brand resonance – including branded entertainment content – at parity across channels and show a complete picture of our broad audience.”

Media companies and brands are looking to standardize measurement in a social video ecosystem that changes at a much more rapid pace than traditional TV. Stern said while content and storytelling look similar across the video ecosystem, adapting to platforms’ changing algorithms can make “programming a social feed… like data science”.

“To be a successful media company today, you actually have to have a core capability of being able to understand social media feeds, social media algorithms and adapt content,” said Stern. “That’s the core competency of social video companies is the ability to move fast, to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on and to make needed changes. That’s what so different about digital media today.”

While specific to social video, Tubular Labs’ focus on time-based viewing reflects a general shift across media. The Media Ratings Council (MRC) recently released its cross-media audience measurement standard that emphasizes duration weighting, an attempt to measure ads equally independent of time length.

Tubular Labs is focused on measuring content, not ad performance, but Stern said the company – which does not work with the MRC – is aligned with its mission to standardize the space, and added that Tubular Labs is open to working with the MRC in the future.



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