The Final Online Video Tally: Obama’s Long Primary Season Prepped Him for the Win

Barack Obama beat John McCain by a narrow margin in the popular vote and a hearty margin in the electoral college. But what about the online video vote, where it all comes down to the number of views? There the margin was somewhere in between, with Obama pulling in nearly 900 million views compared to McCain’s 550 million.



That’s according to divinity Metrics, a video analytics startup that measures the spread of videos for marketers and content producers. CEO Rajeev Kadam noted that Obama’s video view lead was built up, in part, by the long Democratic primary race, where he was fighting Hillary Clinton in person and on the web while McCain sat pretty as his party’s chosen candidate. (Sorry, but you’ll have to click on the graphs above to see them in full size; they’re too wide for our column.)

The firm measured views across more than 200 video sites dating to July 2007, finding 64,092 total videos related to McCain and 104,456 total videos related to Obama. McCain’s campaign posted 376 videos and Obama posted 1,982 videos. The biggest viewership peaks for both appear to be around the time the Dow plummeted, in the thick of the election.

But this data isn’t a perfect measure of online video’s affinity with either candidate. divinity Metrics decides if a video is “related” to a candidate by looking at the metadata and comments surrounding it — which don’t necessarily imply whether the video supports or opposes that particular candidate.

That means a video such as McCain’s ad saying that Obama advocated sex ed for kindergarteners would be counted as an Obama-related video, but also as an official McCain video, according to Kadam.

Other analytics firms, like TubeMogul and Visible Measures, have also been closely tracking election videos and posting about them on their blogs. But those have been narrower studies; TubeMogul looked specifically at YouTube and Visible Measures only published data on specific news events. TubeMogul at one point had indicated that McCain was beating Obama on one measure of online video success: average views per video, in the month of September.

Meanwhile, Visible Measures tells us its next project is Obama’s acceptance speech from last night. Here’s Matt Cutler, the company’s V-P of marketing and analytics:

So far we’ve identified almost 160 unique video placements (again, these are distinct clips, not embeds) that have collectively been viewed over 2.2 million times. What’s interesting about this how fast things are growing…earlier in the day we had about 100 clips that had received 0.62 million views in aggregate. So it appears as though this content is very early in its viral life cycle and we expect to see significant growth.

Update from Cutler, Thursday a.m.:

As of 9:30am this morning, we’ve identified nearly 500 unique video placements (!!).
Collectively, these videos have received over 6.8 million views.

To put this in context, our data indicates that the number of video placements has doubled in the past 10 hours, while the corresponding audience reach has grown by nearly 40%.