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Video Therapy: How Can I Get More People to Like Me?

When offering video online, there's a lot to think about. So much goes on before a viewer even has the opportunity to play back your content. You need to produce the content, edit it, test it with an audience and encode it. Then there's the player design, player functionality, multi-device support and apps strategy... Apple, Android, streaming, storage, HTML5...Meltdown.

There are many aspects of successful video delivery. Drawing the audience to your site through social media campaigns and designing a great user experience for playback are just some of the intricacies involved. However, once a viewer gets to your playback experience, whether that be an iPad™ app with video or a themed video portal on your website, you need to understand what factors (and why!) cause a viewer to linger and watch more content.

From a playback experience and content delivery perspective, the key drivers of audience behavior are: content, packaging and quality. Tracking and correlating these three dimensions provides key insights into how your video experience is influencing the audience behavior. Let's look at each dimension in detail:

Content. It is important to catalog your video library using a robust taxonomy, so that you can measure audience behavior across categories. For on demand content, it is important to have at least four levels of categorization. For example, Genre, Sub Genre, Show and Episode can be applied to most episodic content. Knowing the audience's preference for different types of content will help you improve content production and editing processes.

Packaging. Content length and placement are important considerations: long form vs. short form, full episodes vs. clips, and highlight reels vs. full event replays. Overlaying ad density and packaging information can reveal insights into the optimal ad policy for your content. Your ad policy should ideally be acceptable to you in terms of revenue-generation, and acceptable to your audience in terms of user experience. The optimal ad policy can be determined with the added context of content popularity and content length. Having this information at your fingertips can help you drive decisions around how many ads to insert, when and where to insert ads into the content, and how to vary the ad density and placement so that you can maximize revenue generation potential while monitoring the effects on viewer engagement.

Quality. It is very important to understand how quality of service impacts audience behavior.  You should know how long a viewer will wait for video to start, how much re-buffering they will tolerate before navigating away from your site, or if you need to increase the video bitrate in order to increase the amount of time viewers watch your content. With the knowledge of how quality issues affect the behavior of your audience, you can plan appropriate capital outlays for technology and delivery services to focus investments on solutions that will drive viewer engagement, and ultimately revenue.

Akamai Media Analytics uses the advice and feedback from many customers who wanted an easier way to grow their digital media business. Akamai Media Analytics tracks content, packaging, and quality trends, allowing customers to understand their audience and act on that data to influence audience behavior.

Here are some scenarios we heard from customers and how to get actionable insights:

1.     Your ad ops team wants to know if their ad policy is optimized. Can they add more pre-roll ads without driving viewers away? How many?

With Akamai Media Analytics: Knowing your audience allows you to sell ads more effectively, and understand audience motivations to optimize the ad policy without driving viewers away.

2.     You want to increase overall viewing time on your site by 10%. You know that your sports content is popular, but how can you use that to your advantage?

With Akamai Media Analytics: Easily monitor the number of plays and minutes watched per visit, and see how it contributes to the overall amount of video watched. Increasing overall viewing time on your site is really about attracting new viewers, or getting each viewer on your site to watch longer. You can easily monitor the effects of a social media campaign or a newly-installed "related content" sports widget to reach your goals.

3.     You're at a friend's house and proud to show them how easy it is to watch video on your site with their iPhone. They access the page, but the video takes a long time to load and then playback stutters. You're sure this has something to do with your friend's iPhone. I mean, this can't be affecting your entire digital audience, right?

With Akamai Media Analytics: View real-time quality of service reports to troubleshoot quality issues on the spot, or replay performance issues later to investigate and resolve issues.

4.     You have a big product launch coming up, say iAnything 6.0, with a fresh new video experience built for the occasion. Your marketing team wants reassurance that this new version of the player isn't going to ruin the big launch initiative...how do you reassure them?

With Akamai Media Analytics: Monitoring launch success is easy. Use quality of service reports to track audience behavior in real time, and view audience and content trending post-launch to report on the overall success metrics.

How to Tackle the Bitrate Debate

More is better, when it comes to video quality, right? More, more, more! Well...yes, and no. Higher quality bitrates can be more engaging...up to a certain point. There is a point at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in, and it doesn't make sense to offer a higher quality stream because it doesn't serve your audience to do so. At what point you ask? That's where analytics come in handy. Audience Analytics can tell you exactly when enough is enough, in terms of video bitrate quality for your content and your audience.

Sure, that may seem like an evasive answer, but that's because the answer really does depend on your content, quality and packaging (more about this in an upcoming post). What I can tell you is what the answer looked like for some recent live sporting events.
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