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Speaking of NAB ...

Experts from Akamai's Media & Entertainment team will be participating in a host of conference panels, partner workshops and in-booth presentations during the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas.

A Run on 4K at NAB

If the industry had stuck with "Ultra High Definition" as the generic label for 4K video resolution, chances are pretty good that we wouldn't be doing road races during major tradeshows. But with 4K becoming a generally accepted term, it was practically an obligation that somebody came up with a way to tie it into a run.

Akamai/Vubiquity Win MCN Innovator Award

We're thrilled that Multichannel News has recognized Akamai's joint Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) offering with Vubiquity as one of its inaugural Innovator Award winners. According to the publication, the awards are intended to "honor distinctive new products at the 2014 SCTE Cable-Tec Expo," which took place in Denver this week. Winners were "selected by a panel of cable executives and Multichannel News contributors."

Setting the Stage for Akamai Edge 2014

If you create the stage setting and it's grand, everyone who enters will play their part.

That was the motto of Morris Lapidus, architect of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, which will play host to Akamai Edge 2014 in October.

World Cup 2014: The Drama in the Data

The excitement and drama of this year's World Cup combined with huge connected audiences, more devices and higher Internet connection speeds helped drive unprecedented levels of live online video streaming. FIFA itself called the tournament "the biggest multimedia sporting event in history." 

According to Mediaset España, the World Cup drove significant traffic thanks to the increasing use of mobile devices. "We needed to provide our users with high-quality experiences regardless of what device they used or the location from where they accessed our content," explained Jorge Martín Ibarra, IT Director at Mediaset España. Ibarra said they chose to work with Akamai because they "were confident that the breadth of the Akamai cloud services, including high-quality video, site performance and security would improve the viewer experience while watching the tournament."

By helping more than 50 rights-holding customers live stream every match into over 80 countries, Akamai was afforded a unique vantage point of traffic patterns and trends during the tournament (Ok, and maybe catch a match or two while we were at it.). While we're leaving it to the rights holders to reveal details on their respective streaming figures, engagement rates, device usage and the like, we've been able to draw some interesting observations from the overall traffic that was delivered across the Akamai Intelligent Platform. 

The numbers below are all measured in Terabits per second (Tbps). For some simple context, 1 Tbps is the equivalent of downloading the 1981 classic soccer film, "Victory" (Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, Pele), 625 times per second.

The Netherlands-Argentina World Cup semifinal traffic peak of 6.9 Tbps is the equivalent of downloading 4,312 copies of "Victory" every second.

Live Streaming from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

More than a century ago, clothing designer Tiger of Sweden was founded with the radical idea of sending its tailors to customers rather than waiting for customers to visit the shop. During this week's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Stockholm, the cutting-edge designer is again bringing its fashions to the people, this time by way of live streaming the showcase of its 2014 Fall and Winter clothing lines.

With no margin for error, production company Studio Bon has selected Akamai's digital media solutions to deliver the live event online, ensuring it has the scale, reach and reliability to enable a global audience of press, purchasers and consumers to experience the look and spirit of the new collections across geographies and devices. 

Akamai at the International CES: 5 Predictions

Since the International CES has become such a focal point for the convergence of content and technology, the lead-up to the show tends to generate a fair amount of buzz around Akamai about what's to come (and, frankly, what may have passed), how the industry sees content delivery and consumption evolving, and what might be the "next big thing" coming out of the event. In what's becoming an annual prediction - and occasionally snark - contest, we invited some Akamai staffers with particularly keen interests in CES to forecast a few trends for the January confab.

Without further ado, here are five predictions for next week's CES:

  1. Connected cars for the always-on consumer. We're seeing more and more auto announcements at CES, as opposed to auto shows, because of the impressive technology they sport. As consumers, we're increasingly reliant on our mobile devices, and auto manufacturers are finding new ways to connect our cars and smartphones - and many of our other devices. We're certainly going to see lots of connected cars and their new technologies at the event this year. It might be a stretch for this year's show, but what if, someday, cars could talk to each other? Just imagine how that would impact traffic patterns! - Kris Alexander, Chief Strategist, Connected Devices and Gaming
  2. A pair of 4K eyeballs to go with those snazzy new ultra high-def TVs, because I'm still seeing the same HD stuff I did with my ol' $600 HD TV from last year. OK, it's not likely, but there's going to be a lot of talk about how we can deliver 4K content on these impressive screens. - Troy Snyder, Vice President of Ecosystem/Executive Producer
  3. The death of 3-D. You can stick those glasses in your time capsule because 3-D was a short-lived fad. I doubt we'll see much advancement or interest in 3-D this year. - Will Law, Principal Architect, Media Engineering
  4. 4K is here to stay - and there are new use cases for it. 4K or ultra high-definition screens are cool, but this tech is about much more than crisp content on your TV. It doesn't make sense for screens smaller than 65 inches, so the uses of it will be different than the average TV screen. Think a wall-sized interface, like the slick living room demo Cisco showed at NAB this year - there will likely be more examples of that use case at CES in 2014. - Kurt Michel, Director of Product Marketing, Digital Media Solutions
  5. Who will become the "Kayak" of content? Various set-top boxes and services stream over-the-top video today, and with every new offer comes a new "thing" consumers need to get. With the arrival of new, highly connected devices like game consoles, the question becomes: Who will make consumers' lives easier and do it all within one device? - Frank Childs, Director of Product Marketing, Aura Network Solutions
Do you agree? Disagree? Care to share some predictions of your own? Feel free to use the comments section below.

Akamai will again be at CES and we expect to have a few interesting things to talk about in the coming days. Stay tuned to this space for more on that as well as updates and observations from the show itself.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager for Akamai.

The Boston Globe Names Akamai a 'Top Place to Work'

Akamai is one of the best places to work in Massachusetts according to The Boston Globe's "Top Places to Work in 2013" survey. Akamai placed sixth in the "largest employers" category, moving up eight spots from last year, and was listed among the highest-ranking technology companies overall in the state.

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Employees from our Cambridge, Mass., headquarters were among nearly 76,000 respondents to a survey commissioned by The Boston Globe. To help determine the rankings, the survey considered six key factors related to employee happiness: company direction, execution, employee connection, work load and responsibility, management, and pay and benefits.

Organizations need to offer quality career growth opportunities and the ability to "work with good, smart people," Jim Gemmell, Akamai's chief human resources officer, told The Boston Globe during an executive roundtable. The conversation included four technology leaders discussing their respective recruitment techniques and workplace culture.

Robert Hughes, president of worldwide operations for Akamai, called it a "tremendous honor" for Akamai to maintain its place as one of Massachusetts' top employers and considered it a "true testament to those who work here." He said the continued acknowledgement validates Akamai's efforts to provide exceptional experiences for employees as well as customers.

If you're interested in learning more about building a career at Akamai in Massachusetts or any of our offices around the world, we encourage you to visit our careers page. You can also follow @akamaijobs on Twitter.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

Sola Shines at Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards

We're honored that Akamai received three 2013 Streaming Media Readers' Choice Awards, which were presented during a ceremony at the Streaming Media West conference in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 20th. Akamai ranked first in the Content Delivery Network (CDN), Cloud Encoding/Transcoding, and Reporting & Analytics Platform categories.

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Akamai's Sola Sphere won for CDN. Built upon the Akamai Intelligent Platform of more than 141,000 globally distributed servers, Sola Sphere is the world's first and largest content delivery network, providing online storage and HTTP media delivery to address the expansive variety of network types and connection speeds.

Sola Vision Transcoding topped the Cloud Encoding/Transcoding category. The cloud-based transcoding services are optimized to combine the quality, simplicity and speed necessary generate multiple copies of a video file that are so crucial to adaptive bitrate streaming and a positive viewing experience across multiple devices and varying levels of connectivity.

Finally, Sola Analytics was the readers' choice for Reporting and Analytics Platform. Consisting of Audience Analytics, Quality of Service Monitor and Viewer Diagnostics, Sola Analytics delivers insights designed to address numerous business issues, including maximizing monetization, try-to-buy conversions, optimizing product portfolios, prioritizing marketing efforts, managing distribution strategies, addressing rights holder requirements, and monitoring and allocating costs.

According to Streaming Media, it received more than 300 nominations across 26 categories. We want to extend our thanks to everybody who voted for Akamai this year, and congratulations to all of this year's winners and finalists.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.

The Science of Online Video Advertisements

Today Akamai announced the publication of a new study, "Understanding the Effectiveness of Video Ads: A Measurement Study," designed to gain a scientific understanding of when viewers complete watching online video ads and when they abandon them. With analysis of an aggregate 367 million videos and 257 million ads from over 3,000 publishers that were viewed by 65 million unique users worldwide across the Akamai Intelligent Platform, a great deal of useful information can be gleaned from reading the study. For example:
  • The position of an ad has the single largest impact on completion rate, with a mid-roll ad 18.1 percent more likely to be completed than the same ad as a pre-roll, and pre-rolls 14.3 percent more likely to be completed than the same ad as a post-roll.
  • Repeat visitors to a site have higher completion rates for ads on that site than one-time visitors to that site.
  • Viewers are more tolerant of video ads than of slow-loading videos. Viewers who must wait 10 seconds for their video to load are three times more likely to abandon than users who spend the same amount time watching a pre-roll ad. 
  • Users who abandon ads leave early. One-third of the abandoners leave at or before the quarter-way mark and two-thirds at or before the halfway mark in the ad. 
  • Ads that play within long-form content such as TV episodes and movies complete at a higher rate (87 percent) than those that play in short-form content such as news clips and sports highlights (67 percent).
  • Time of day and day of week do not affect ad completion rates substantially.

The study goes to great lengths and detail to account for a multitude of variables that could affect ad completions and abandons. In addition to providing a deeper understanding of how factors of an ad, the video and the viewer influence an advertisement's effectiveness, the study is intended to help drive the evolution of video monetization models that are so critical to the growth and success of online video. 

Akamai's Sola Analytics cloud-based video measurement and reporting product was used to collect and analyze the massive amount of data leveraged for the study. 

Co-authors S. Shunmuga Krishnan and Ramesh K. Sitaraman are presenting the study at the Internet Measurement Conference 2013 on Thursday, October 24, in Barcelona.

Chris Nicholson is a senior public relations manager at Akamai.
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