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Online, it's all about measurement. From web analytics to advertising, the current economic environment demands it because without measurement, it's all but impossible to calculate ever-important ROI.

Increasingly, 'engagement' is one of the metrics that everyone is interesting in measuring. How are users interacting with your content or ads? How does that relate to your bottom line?

The internet's most popular video website, YouTube, is trying to answer that question and has added a number of user engagement metrics to its Insight analytics tool.

The new 'community engagement' analytics tool measures the number of YouTube users who have commented on, rated or favorites your videos and channels. Figures can be broken down by video/channel as well as the countries of the users.

Needless to say there are a lot of applications for these types of analytics. Liz Gannes of NewTeeVee details:

So for instance, a studio could see that a certain cut of a movie trailer did better in the UK, and another in the U.S., or the average rating for each version on any given day, said Tracy Chan, product manager for YouTube Insight. Users could also measure the effectiveness of “calls to action” within their video.

While community engagement will have no impact on the pricing of ads on YouTube for now, this sort of data could be a boon to YouTube's ad sales efforts if it can convince media buyers that there's a correlation between user engagement and their ROI, whether direct or indirect.

Although there's a limit to how much YouTube will be able to charge for advertising because it has so much potential inventory, by measuring everything and giving media buyers (and content creators) a broader picture of how users are engaging with YouTube content, I believe YouTube can build a much stronger business than it has now.

It will probably have to do more than measure ratings, comments and favorites to get there but this is a start.

Photo credit: codenamecueball via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 March, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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