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As online video content has grown popular, most Web resources are hosting video. Hence most operators are seeking ways to optimize their data network expenditures. The users get very quickly accustomed to high quality of video delivery, and expect such quality from premium video resources. In such a situation, it is vital for video site owners to monitor user experience, track delivery issues in ISP networks and gain an insight into video consumption trends. This issue is particularly acute in countries with poor backbone links, such as Russia. In this article, we’ll give details on the available analytical tools and their applicability to your projects.
To deliver video content, you’ll need a high quality connection between the origin video servers and the user device. To assess the quality of this connection, you can use insert video QoS tracking code into your Flash video player or use special tools on the origin video servers (such as Flash Media Server or the HTTP Web Server). To gain the most comprehensive insight, we recommend you to combine both approaches. For user convenience, NetFlix has even made publicly available the data on the average ISP bit rate. This way the users can select ISPs based on viewing experience.
Video analytics in Flash Player
To solve the first part of the problem, we have developed a video analytics plugin for Flash Player (it is OFMS based, but also it can be easily integrated into other frameworks). The plugin allows you to deliver a variety of parameters to the most popular Web analytics systems (Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture). Based on such parameters, you can analyze video content views, duration of views, video quality metrics. Also, you can correlate the parameters with traffic sources on the Web site, perform segmentation of data by all Web analytics baselines and infrastructure sites (this is most helpful for evaluation of CDN operators). In this case, the power of video analytics is multiplied by the power of best-of-the-breed Web analytics platforms, allowing you to link video content data with the other user data.
Here are the basic parameters tracked from the player:
- Viewing by category, name, and type of video
- Viewing duration
- Viewing bit rate (levels)
- Average video bit rate of the user
- Initial video buffering duration
- Bufferings during the viewing session
- Origin video server
Based on various display layouts, you can generate reports showing the specified parameters by the audience geography or their ISP. Also in the player you can set threshold-based alerts to track the number of “problematic” users at different regions or ISPs, etc.
With segmentation by the origin video server, you can compare performance of different CDN providers, efficiency of several your sites or even benchmark your caching mechanisms and placing the content closer to the user.
Video analytics on the server side
On the media server side, you can gather fascinating statistics of the average user bit rate. By collating this data with the IP address database, you can get statistics similar to NetFlix, involving average user bit rate by region and ISP. This solution is part of the video platform we have developed for HTTP Dynamic Streaming and RTMP-based video content delivery. Still, nothing prevents you from repeating this in your solutions or seeking our assistance. This approach is possible if you deliver content based on your own video platform. In case of a CDN provider you have only the first option, with video player customization.
Wishing a broader bandwidth to your video content.