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Testing Video Engagement Using Google Website Optimizer


Using Minimum Viewing Time as a A/B Test Conversion Goal

Sample Scenario:

  • You want to add a page with a video or demo to your web site.
  • You believe that it is important for visitors to view as much as possible of the video.
  • You have 2 videos to test against each other, and your test goal is to determine which one of your videos keeps more visitors watching (engaged) for at least a certain period of time and plan to  keep the one that engages viewers more than the other.

In this scenario, since your test goal is to determine which video users are more engaged in watching for at least a certain period of time you will therefore want a conversion to trigger and to be recorded in GWO after that set period of predetermined minimum viewing time.

Back to the Scenario:

  • You want a conversion to trigger if a visitor in the experiment views at least 20 seconds of your 1 minute videos.

This is easily done by using Time On Page as your conversion goal. What basically happens is that if the visitor stays on the page or in this scenario views the video for that certain period of time that you have predetermined; the setTimeout JavaScript function (in the script given further down in the article) executes the script that reports a conversion in Google Website Optimizer.

To do this, use this time on page goal tracking script and place it at the bottom of the page that has your control script and test page tracking script. Change the red bold faced font in the script below to the amount of time you want the visitor to have reached before a conversion is triggered. The number is represented in milliseconds where 1000 milliseconds equal 1 second – so in this scenario since we want 20 seconds of viewing time to trigger a conversion, simple multiplication of 1000 milliseconds x 20 = 20000. Therefore if the viewer views the video for AT LEAST 20 seconds a conversion is recorded. You will replace the xxxx’s in blue below with the data given to you in the control script and test page tracking script (it references your GWO account and this test).

if(typeof(_gat)!=’object’)document.write(‘<sc’+’ript src=”http’+ (document.location.protocol==’https:’?’s://ssl’:’://www’)+ ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js”></sc’+’ript>’)

setTimeout(‘_gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx“)._trackPageView(“/xxxxxxxxxx/goal”)’, 20000);

Note: Since the conversion is triggered in this instance by a viewer who stays on your page for a certain minimum period of time, and if your page has more than just the video (such as news, photos, or articles) and a visitor stays for the minimum period of time doing other “things”, the conversion will still trigger. You either need to set your test to be just for the video (requiring a more advanced setup), or have nothing else on the page but the video – and by nothing else I am referring to other pieces of content that could potentially keep people on that page doing something other than viewing the video.


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