In-Depth Review of InPlay Video Analytics

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It’s not quite Google Analytics, yet. But it is certainly a step in the right direction. While we originally had some implementation problems over at Gamers Daily News, TubeMogul was more than helpful in getting everything working properly with us.
InPlay offers you a good set of analytics, not only for your content but also for the sharing sites like myspace, Facebook, YouTube and more. You can get site specific stats from all of them including daily views, overall views, popular videos, total comments and overall rating. Due to limitations at some of the sites in their implementation of InPlay you can’t always get geographic information, attention span or embed info. They need your help in petitioning those sites to more fully integrate the analytics before you’ll be able to do so.

However, if you use a compatible video player on your content site, we use JWPlayer, from LongTail Video at Gamers Daily News, you can get all of this information in your Site Stats report. Views, unique viewers, percentage completed, time viewed and averages are all included in the stats (see image). But you can also get geographic data, top videos, attention span and engagement. Admittedly, engagement is currently only limited to how much of the video was watched and doesn’t include any sort of interaction statistics like full-screen, mute or pause. In speaking with TubeMogul they stated that they are working on expanding what is tracked across the players and that these could all be tracked at a later date.

InPlay is shaping up to be an excellent video analytics package already and does include a lot of information that you can find in Google Analytics, though some things are still lacking. There’s little way to reshape the data the way you want like you can with Google.

Some Bumps in the Road

What I can’t seem to find a way to do is to combine the Gamers Daily News site stats into the GDN inplay statsPublisher stats (as a publisher) so that I could then see the percentage of all video views that are at GDN versus say MySpace or YouTube. The two (sites and publishers) are completely separate though if you are supplying a value for publisher in the stats you can extract that and track them separately. For GDN I do it by video game, so that means I can track views on all videos for a particular game to gauge interest in it. It’s handy, and I can check those stats against the videos on YouTube if I happen to be publishing them to both, which I’m not as I can’t monetize them there.

Also the stats don’t seem to pick up all of the publisherIDs that I send. Well that’s not exactly true, just what it looked like at first. They do pick it up. But the problem is in the interface. You can’t type in the window then hit enter. It doesn’t send the information to the site apparently. You have to actually click on “Search for Publisher.”

So, as you can see, it’s a little on the cumbersome side. You have to go to site stats and search for a publisher, then you have to bookmark that particular publisher. Then you go to Syndicated Stats and on Publisher Reports, that new publisher will show up and be tracked as part of the campaign. Granted, over time things will get ironed out and become smoother. The more people play with the stats and do things the more suggestions for features there will be and hopefully TubeMogul will continue to listen to us and implement them.

What I’d really like is a list of all publisher IDs that I’m sending them so I could just mass import. With over 9,000 games in the GDN database, I could be importing by hand for a very long time.

Speaking of cumbersome. The stats page itself is a set size (height and width, see image above), so if you add an array of publishers to your Publisher reports page, you’ll then get a scroll bar on that particular window in order to see all of the publishers. This would also happen if you were attempting to track video stats in your entire campaign across perhaps five or more sites, because of the static window size. Note it says “viewership by site” in my image above. That’s not particularly true as all of those publishers are on GDN. However, that graph could include MySpace, DailyMotion, Viddler, etc.

There are also some video streaming specific things that are in the package that you don’t find in a standard web-page analytics package including stream quality, and errors by either geography or by video. This will mostly just allow you to see how well your server is pushing the video and if there are any problems in regards to rebuffering, length of wait for video to start, lost viewers and wasted bandwidth.
Inplay video Stats

Sum it up for us!

Sure, the system is still feature ‘light’ in a few areas and has some minor annoyances and is cumbersome to use at times, but it’s new, and free and expanding. I think it could eventually be the standard for video streaming analytics and will probably spawn several other freely available analytics services by the end of the year. I think they’ve most likely got a head start on the others and should be able to maintain a healthy lead provided they continue to expand and develop it.

If you’re using Brightcove, JWPlayer (which is what I use), OSMF, FlowPlayer or Kaltura, there’s an easy plug-in to get the stats up and running. If you’re using some other Flash Player, Silverlight or HTML5, you’ll need to speak with TubeMogul about getting support for the InPlay Stats.

The Future

The stats do have multiple limitations that are based on the free-to-use versus premium version. For example, you can only lump everything together into one campaign in the free version, but if you upgrade to the premium version you can have more. They take an “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” approach and require you to “inquire about paid services,” so either they don’t really know how much they’re going to charge you right now, or they’re going to charge on a case-by-case basis.

Also included in the premium services are allowing other users access to your stats and any type of developer settings, though I’m not sure what that it. I think this is still all partly because if you sign up for an InPlay account you’re also signed up for TubeMogul’s OneLoad (video distribution service) and the Enterprise version (which starts at $1500 a month) is the only package with multi-campaign tracking and multi-user capabilities. The two (InPlay and OneLoad) must still be intricately interwoven and that explains it, or TubeMogul is going to continue on with a free-to-use version of InPlay and a paid version. I’m not quite sure at present, so I’m going to speak with TubeMogul and get you all a clear picture on their plans for the platform, because, that’s the kind of guy I am.


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