The Science of Presidential Debates Video Views

A look at the types of video that are most successful at grabbing user attention and generating initial engagement
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Websites that offer video from the Presidential Debates get more views and less bounces if they conform to certain rules that IRIS.TV—a personalized video programming platform—observed from videos posted from the first three (counting VP) debates on 15 major sites that have had nearly a billion video views from Aug. 15 to Oct. 14.

Related: 67 Million Watch Second Clinton-Trump Debate

General Best Practices 

  • Debate video has 12% higher user retention* than websites that had other video coverage, so add more debate video to your web pages.
  • Tag each asset with metadata from a debate category such as: Presidential Debates, Debates, Politics, Election 2016, and Vice Presidential Debates, Trump, Hillary, etc.
  • Videos with attention-grabbing titles have 67% higher retention rates than videos entitled with descriptions such as “summary” or “watch" so use creative titles that include an audience hook or “outrageous moment.”
  • Promote video on social media to drive traffic to your owned and operated site. Video assets capturing interviews on social media trending stories, such as Ken Bone, drive traffic best. 

*Retention rate is the percentage of viewers that continue to watch video after the completion of the first video in a stream.

Related: Billy Bush Not Expected to Return to 'Today'

There are certain types of videos that are most successful at grabbing user attention and generating initial engagement: 

Lead stories (average length of 168 seconds) that feature abbreviated recaps of debate, fact checking favoring Hillary Clinton, hot-button comments made by moderators, performance analysis of each of the candidates, and interviews of celebs or influential political figures. Great Example:

Color coverage that continues and extends user experience on site such as celebrity reactions or opposing politicians from the same party, highlighted moments of aggression between candidates, and short coverage of scandalous claims made by each candidate. Great example: 

Recap of debate outlines highlights from the debate with short video coverage of candidate’s performance, promotion on the publisher's site by posting on homepage, paired with multiple articles analyzing debate, and placed first in “featured” playlist. Great example:

Reactions of debate (average length: 60-80 seconds) such as an interview of Nancy O’Dell commenting on lewd comments from Donald Trump and his defense of comments during the second presidential debate or celebrity reactions on twitter. Great example:

Also doing well are videos of unconventional debate coverage such as Bill Clinton’s reaction to sexual assault accusations, Trump’s interactions with youngest daughter, or Ivanka Trump’s silence on Trump’s sexist comments.

Finally, here are some tactics to avoid: videos that appear on multiple articles and playlists even if their content does not relate to the subject of the article. Videos longer than 200 seconds and snippets of footage from the debate without commentary or highlighted issues are also performing poorly.

Related: Trump Wins Tale of Tweets in Presidential Debate

Getting the right video in front of the right viewers helps build loyalty and creates the opportunity for multiple video views, which translates into higher revenue for publishers. Nothing does this better than events that are trending in the news.

Rohan Castelino serves as director of business development & marketing and Katherine Miller is an account executive with IRIS.TV.

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