“Wendy,” Macy’s original Web drama aimed at teens, sure seems like a big hit. That is, if you believe Macy’s.
“Wendy,” a Peter Pan-inspired, CW-like series, has generated 5.65 million views as of Oct. 31, following its debut on Sept. 15. That’s fairly impressive for a Web original, albeit one that featured a pair of lesser-known TV actors and was promoted heavily on TV. However, in terms of how many total viewers watched “Wendy,” either collectively or on a per-episode basis, only executives at Macy’s and its partner Alloy Media know for sure — and they aren’t releasing those numbers. Since a significant portion of the viewership supposedly happened on Macy’s site (Macy’s MStyle Lab to be precise) and across the Alloy Digital Network, which includes sites such as Wetpaint, Yidio, Fanlala, Hollywire.com and ClevverTV — both ComScore and Nielsen say they can’t provide any audience data for the show.
There’s no reason to doubt Macy’s regarding the numbers, but the fact that the only way to get at the show’s audience is to trust the company points to one of the significant and ongoing problems with Web video. How many brands are going to be OK with taking a chance with a similar project or look to sponsor other originals if they can’t even get audience data from an independent third party?
Macy’s showcased “Wendy” on its own site, making it awfully hard to find. Even basic Google searches often came up empty for the show, even as it was being promoted on TV. The ads drove viewers to the Macy’s website to view the episodes.
Besides Macy’s site and multiple teen-skewing Alloy partners sites, “Wendy” is available on YouTube and Facebook (via YouTube’s player). Based on those outlets, viewership appeared far more modest — though, at least, consistent. As of Thursday afternoon, the show had 11,801 Facebook likes and over 2,100 Twitter followers. On YouTube, Wendy has generated close to 570,000 views — a far cry from 5.65 million — and nearly 3,300 subscribers. The first episode, which premiered on Sept. 15, has exceeded 143,000 views. Subsequent episodes trailed off, which is not uncommon with original Web shows — settling in at around 80,000 views per episode.
Not exactly “American Idol”-type numbers, but actually not bad, all things considered, according to Matt Fiorentino, director of marketing at the Web analytics firm Visible Measures.
“The retention is a good sign,” he said, nothing that “Wendy” was probably not designed to appeal to a mass audience, but rather a core teen demo (the show’s characters were featured wearing Macy’s clothes).
“It’s hard to say [whether this is a success] without having insight into what their goals were for the campaign,” added Fiorentino. “It seems like they were able to retain between 75,000 to 85,000 viewers per episode, assuming people aren’t re-watching episodes. This is opt-in, lean-forward, high-touch engagement for Macy’s for a key demographic. Macy’s may have been able to turn some of these viewers into brand evangelists by providing them with video content they want to watch. If that’s the case, it’s a powerful campaign.”
On that note, Macy’s and Alloy say that “Wendy” has also been a smashing success in social media — a key goal for a Millennial-aimed show such as this.
According to Macy’s data, “Wendy” has amassed over 76 million social media impressions across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the blogosphere. Plus, because of Macy’s brand and TV push — “Wendy” received a ton of press coverage from media companies ranging from People magazine to The Huffington Post to Just Jared — totaling over 110 million impressions.
That is, according to Macy’s, of course.