Horton hears a Hulu

(iStock)Last week the NY times reported on the insanely divergent number of Hulu users reported by Nielsen and comScore, both reputable measurement firms.  Nielsen reported 8.9 million visitors to Hulu in March while comScore counted 42 million. Nielsen also shows Hulu losing audience in April while still managing to add video views, also known as streams.

So who is really watching Hulu? And why isn’t Hulu countering with its own measurement numbers; assuming they manage their servers, couldn’t they tell the world who is hitting those streams?

Hulu of course is in the middle of building it’s business model and proving it can support itself through advertising and low reports on audience will not help those numbers or garner new advertisers interested in hitting a fragmented audience.

Meanwhile, eMarketer projects that video advertising will account for more than a billion dollars of spending this year, up from $734 million last year so there is opportunity to capture some significant dollars in this space, but how do we measure it…. Unique Visitors?  Video Streams? Time Spent?  And whose data really counts?

A new survey from Optimedia adds the engagement factor to its measurement reporting.  It confirms the concept that engagement in a show is just as important as the rating number. For instance, two series on the CW network, “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill,” finished far higher in the survey than they did in the Nielsen  ratings last year. Their higher ranks reflect the benefits of so-called advocacy as well as of the ability to watch programs online and on mobile devices.

Our own sister company, Reprise Media ( a a full service search and social media marketing firm) has just announced a partnership with Visible Measures the independent third-party measurement firm for Internet video publishers, advertisers and viral marketers, to expand its social video tracking capabilities.  Per the press release, “Visible Measures gives Reprise Media the ability to measure how people watch, share and comment on its clients’ videos across more than 150 video-sharing destinations.”

Measuring the “social features” behind video consumption will be where things really get interesting and hopefully will provide new measurements standards that will create value for advertisers