Sometimes redesigning a technological product suite is like redecorating a house. Once you start with one room, you end up reworking more rooms to complete a look.
Late last month, having launched a revamped Google Analytics solution, a number of mobile search engine updates, and the even more ballyhooed Google+ platform, Google revealed the fruit of its development labor on the YouTube Insights video measurement platform. One might presume Google was following suit with Insights product enhancements. But the Insights update, which came with a new name for the platform -- YouTube Analytics -- is significant for its reflection of deeper market trends.
Google’s focus on its video platform has much to do with increased mobile video viewing. A report from eMarketer said US mobile video viewers reached 45.1 million in 2011 and will hit 78.1 million -- nearly a quarter of the population -- by 2015. In the report, Paul Verna, an eMarketer senior analyst, cited significant sources for that expected growth:
Audience growth over the next four years will come from all demographic segments, but it will be more pronounced among preteen children, older boomers, and seniors. These groups have traditionally lagged teens and younger adults in their video viewing activity, but the gaps will start to close as the market matures.
Add this forecast to YouTube’s search capacity (it's recognized as one of the largest search engines). Mix those points with Google’s introduction of mobile-centric features in its online search engine, and you have a recipe for YouTube Analytics.
To create the platform, Google rearranged some of the YouTube Insights reporting segments with a consideration for mobile and application influences. It revised the user interface so that selectors and buttons control the appearance of charts and graphs, and it eliminated slider graphs for date ranges. That change makes sense to me. The data graphs can now highlight trends at first glance, rather than requiring a long stare. In addition, the slider buttons are large -- ideal when accessing an account via an iPad or Android tablet -- and have a more modern feel.
Reporting segments from the original Insights also appear with a more intuitive graphic appearance. For example, the Discovery segment, meant to reflect where a video is shown, is displayed as a pie chart instead of a stacked chart. The pie chart is an easier view when displaying multiple sources on which a video is being shown. Moreover, Google has labeled the sources more simply -- a straightforward Embedded Player category replaces No Link Referrer Embedded Player, and YouTube Suggested Video is an option.
YouTube Analytics introduces reporting segments but mostly rearranges them. For example, the new segment Engagement replaces Community and groups Likes, Dislikes, and Shares together. Another new segment is Audience Retention, which replaces Hot Spots and reveals how long viewers are watching a video.
Reports are grouped by a standard overview, view, and engagements. These segments are not adjustable like the dashboard in Google Analytics, though you can export data into a CSV format. A new capability is downloading data by report. There is a central reporting bar similar in appearance to Google Analytics.
I think the dashboard improvements are reminiscent of Facebook’s improvements to its analytics tool, Facebook Insights -- adding a few metrics while cleaning up the look. Much of YouTube has been updated with similar appearance changes, making Google’s 2011 mission to revise its online properties a full redecoration of its house.