How Much Online Video Quality is Enough?

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This white paper describes how it is now possible to identify the precise correlation between online video viewer engagement and QoS and to identify the “sweet spot” at which both are optimized.

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How Much Online Video Quality is Enough?

  1. 1. How Much Online VideoQuality is Enough?Pinpoint the QoS / Engagement Sweet Spot
  2. 2. IntroductionOnline video consumption is soaring, posting a record 25.6 billion views inAugust 2009 according to syndicated audience measurement firm,comScore.But despite this spectacular growth, effective monetization of onlinevideo remains elusive for most content owners.Some digital media companies feel that the path to profits lies inmaximizing quality of service (QoS) levels, believing that it will result incorrespondingly higher viewer engagement levels and, in turn, happyadvertisers.In pursuing this strategy, however, content creators often assume —absent any hard data — that paying more for higher levels of QoS willyield proportionally higher levels of viewer engagement.But is this true? Does the additional investment in service quality actuallyresult in longer engagement by the consumer?With this white paper we will demonstrate how it is now possible toidentify the precise correlation between viewer engagement and QoS andto identify the “sweet spot” at which both are optimized. IP Video Management Analytics 1
  3. 3. ProblemTo successfully tap the financial potential of surging onlinevideo viewership, content creators are scrambling toidentify the optimal operational and editorial mix.As a result, most are focusing their efforts onimproving the quality of the video itself.In pursuing this goal, they hope to create a better user experience that willtranslate into a more engaged and involved viewer. The assumption being that higherengagement levels will entice viewers to consume more video content and, in theprocess, to be exposed to more advertising.In their quest to improve video quality and the perceived user experience, contentcreators are investing in a bounty of performance enhancing technologies like:• Multi-bitrate streaming, which allows higher quality streaming video to play properly over Internet connections of varying connection speeds.• HTTP-based streaming delivery (such as Microsoft Smooth Streaming), which enables adaptive streaming over the HTTP protocol.• Higher bandwidth encoding. In order to offer viewers even higher quality video, many content owners are now encoding their videos at 750Kbps or higher, as HD video begins to pick up momentum.But will investing in these technologies and the additional incremental quality that theyprovide result in proportional increases in viewer engagement? To date, there has beenno means to conclusively answer this question.Instead, content creators have been left to hedge their bets and stockpile increasinglevels of service quality in an escalating QoS arms race where it is assumed that “moreis better.” IP Video Management Analytics 2
  4. 4. Why this problem existsTwo primary hurdles have prevented content creators from understandingthe relationship between quality and engagement.• There has not been a solution that captures the user experience from within the video player itself. Instead, those interested in monitoring service quality have had to settle for network and server- side solutions. These services try to simulate real-world conditions, leaving customers to extrapolate from the results. By virtue of their data collection methodology, these services are saddled with limitations including: Incomplete data because it is sampled Staged environment that relies on robot servers rather than real users Infrequently updated data, uploaded as little as once an hour• There has not been a way to combine and correlate QoS and viewer engagement data. As previously mentioned, QoS data is collected by sampling at the network level. Viewer engagement metrics, by contrast, are captured at the video player level. As such, there has been no way to combine and correlate the two. This gap prevents content creators from truly understanding the quantifiable value that each incremental increase in quality yields as premium services are added to the base cost of content delivery. IP Video Management Analytics 3
  5. 5. Solution to the problemSkytide Insight for Flash Video Players uniquely solves this problem by combining andcorrelating viewer engagement and QoS measurement in a single player-side solution.Pasting just a few lines of code into the Adobe Flash Player is all that is required todeploy the service. Four interactive dashboards serve as an intuitive interface to accessthe reports. General Statistics Provides overview of who is watching which videos, when it is being watched and from where it is being viewed. • General daily trends • General time of day statistics • Ranking of top videos • Ranking of top countriesMarketing & DemographicsMore detailed information on geographic viewership data.• By country• By region• By designated market area (DMA)• By time of day Video Engagement Tracks how users interact with specific videos. • Ranking of most watched videos • Ranking of most engaging videos • Daily trend metrics including average play time, most watched portion of a video, percentage of video viewed, average number and duration of pauses and rewindsQuality of ServiceTracks how video quality affects viewer behavior.• Correlates playing time, view & coverage percentage with measured bandwidth or wait time percentage• Correlates any two: seek time, rebuffer time, buffer size, rebuffer count, wait time, rebuffers / play IP Video Management Analytics 4
  6. 6. Business BenefitsBy identifying the “sweet spot” at which By answering these questions, contentviewer engagement and QoS levels are creators can quickly realize very tangibleoptimized, Skytide Insight for Flash Video benefits from Skytide, including:Players unlocks the answers to vexingquestions like: • Eliminating unnecessary investments in service quality; paying for only• Will investing more in QoS pay out with the minimum threshold necessary to higher viewer engagement levels? maximize viewer engagement levels.• Should I switch to a different CDN? • Saving money by getting the functionality of two solutions for less• How much service quality is good than the price of one. enough? • Reducing the resources needed• Should I add or remove an encoding to manage two separate analytics level in my “portfolio”? solutions. Implementing Skytide Insight for Flash Video Players requires just a• What QoS levels will users tolerate few lines of code, so it requires only before it adversely effects engagement minimal IT resources. levels?• Should I invest in adaptive streaming? IP Video Management Analytics 5
  7. 7. Viewer Engagement & QOS ScenariosBelow are a few hypothetical correlation scenarios that demonstrate how SkytideInsight for Flash Video Players can be used in practice.No CorrelationIf you were to see this relationship,it would tell you that investmentsin increased quality are unlikely toyield proportional returns in viewerengagement, ad impressions orrevenue.Continuous CorrelationEvery increase in service qualityyields some increase in engagement.Identifying the “elasticity” ofengagement to QoS at each levelenables detailed cost-benefitanalysis.Diminishing YieldIncreases in service quality yieldinitial viewer engagement gains, thenplateau and have little further effect.Identifying this enables businesses topay for only the minimum thresholdnecessary to maximize viewerengagement levels. IP Video Management Analytics 6
  8. 8. Potential Cost ImpactBy understanding the relationship between QoS and viewer engagement, it is possibleto make more informed decisions that profoundly impact in the following scenarios.CDN DecisionsA CDN promises higher transmission quality but charges 5% more per GB. Should they beawarded the business?Conducting a pilot test that uses Skytide can verify whether the better video qualityleads to a comparable increase in viewer engagement & ad revenue.If increases in quality do not lead to corresponding engagement increases, you havethe hard data to support forgoing this CDN and saving 5% of your CDN costs (hundredsof thousands or even millions of dollars per year).Streaming DecisionsConsideration is being given to implementing dynamic streaming.Doing so will require 3 engineers for 3 months, however. Is this a good decision?Skytide can quantify whether reducing the incidence of stalls — a selling point fordynamic streaming — will generate an equivalent increase in viewer engagement & adrevenue.If the reduction in stalls doesn’t lead to similar gains in engagement, then you just savedup to $150,000 by not investing in an unnecessary technology.Encoding DecisionsDiscussion turns to making an additional higher bit-rate encoding of the video libraryavailable. Is this a good decision?Skytide can identify whether increases to effective bandwidth trigger a proportionalincrease in viewer engagement & ad revenue.If increases to effective bandwidth don’t pay out in higher engagement levels and adrevenue, you just saved about 20-30% of your encoding costs and 1-3% of your CDN costs(hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year). IP Video Management Analytics 7
  9. 9. ConclusionContent creators who are investing considerably to improve QoS butcannot correlate its affect on viewer engagement are effectively payinga “quality tax” — purchasing higher levels of service quality than areneeded to maximize viewer engagement.Skytide Insight for Flash Video Players is the only solution that combinesand correlates QoS and viewer engagement in a single package, sobusinesses can pay only what is necessary on video quality and not apenny more.It is an important part of Skytide’s Digital Media Performance Managementsuite, an integrated collection of hosted applications that connectand correlate all the important data sources that drive digital mediaoperations — web analytics data, CDN streaming and storage logs and adnetwork data.To learn more about Skytide and how we can help you get aclear and complete view of your digital media business, contactour sales team at 510-250-4275 or sales@skytide.com IP Video Management Analytics 8
  10. 10. Related White Papers 7 Online Video Trends to Watch in 2012 The year ahead promises to be full of twists and turns for online video and the digital media supply chain that serves it. Dont be caught flat-footed. Read “7 Online Video Trends to Watch in 2012” to get an advance peek at the trends that will shape the industry and how you can capitalize on the disruption to come. Read Now The 4 Keys to Telco CDN Success Many telecom service providers are building their own content delivery networks as a means to capitalize on the surge in Internet video coursing over their networks. With this white paper, we will reveal four key success factors necessary for Telco CDNs to effectively harness their competitive edge and realize success. Read Now How Telcos and ISPs Can Learn to Love OTT With this white paper we will demonstrate how it is now possible for telcos to improve their position in the content-to-consumer value chain, create a more sustainable business model to value chain members and profit from escalating over-the-top (OTT) video traffic. Read Now IP Video Management Analytics 9

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