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obamairanYesterday, YouTube began letting video uploaders share traffic statistics with the public via its Insight analytics service. One interesting early result, political technology blog techPresident has discovered, is that you can see who is watching — or not watching — President Barack Obama’s speeches.

Whether or not you think Obama’s open-handed approach to foreign policy is the right one, Insight at least shows that his target audiences are sometimes paying attention.

His speech on June 4th in Cairo, Egypt, addressing the Muslim world, was in fact heavily watched by Egyptians, and apparently in some African countries with large Muslim populations, like Nigeria. That’s “heavily watched,” relatively speaking: It has 557,186 views to date, a fraction of Egypt’s 76 million people. Obama’s March 19th speech to Iranians has been watched 609,205 times, but was in fact most popular in Iran. Total viewership of his speeches isn’t so clear, given that unofficial versions of these videos are also floating around, and given that millions more people may have watched them on local and international television channels.

Obama supporters, no doubt, might look at these stats and conclude that his outreach is working, especially given the administration’s focus on using web services like YouTube. “Confidence in Obama Lifts U.S. Image Around the World;
 Most Muslim Publics Not So Easily Moved,” according to a new Pew study. An indicator of the threat that outside messages from YouTube might pose: The Iranian government has blocked the service as political unrest continues in the country.

My takeaway here is that political parties — whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or whoever else — can more easily show the public whether or not their YouTube messaging strategies are working. At least if political operatives who upload these videos choose to let the public see the Insight number (if enabled, you can view it in the “Statistics & Data” section beneath each video).

The other question, the one probably more relevant to regular VentureBeat readers than political issues, is whether any of this can help drive YouTube’s ability to make money. That is still not clear.


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