Monetizing streaming content

Posted: February 26, 2008 in CRM

One of the next things to look at in CRM might well be streaming media. 

Think about it.  Sites like YouTube and many others have made it easy to author video content that can be consumed in numerous ways and the infrastructure for making video available to users is all around us.  Most importantly, a generation of content consumers is primed and ready to consume it.  What’s lacking and what will make streaming media a mainstream phenomenon is the same issue we have confronted again and again in the Internet age — how to monetize the content.

Monetizing content might not be at the top of your list but it certainly is top of mind for content producers.  One of the first things anyone would have to do to monetize, or place a value on, their content is to know how it is consumed.  Who watches, where, when and for how long are all vital questions advertisers want to hone in on before they place ads and spend big bucks.

For example, we web surfers are notoriously deficient in the attention span department so it is imperative for an advertiser to know how long any one video is watched across different audience segments, so they ad placements gain maximum impact. Because if viewers drop off before an ad appears, the whole advertising campaign will suffer.  Not a good career move.

Much the same can be said of trying to analyze who watches, from where and when — get those details wrong and your audience might be AWOL and your clever ads unwatched.  It goes beyond simple advertising though.  One industry watcher told me that there is an important security angle to be explored too.  Consider the case of an on-line university that makes courses available on the Internet.  How do they now know if their students are really attending?  Is the registered student staying for the whole class session?  Is that student taking the test or is that person hiring a professional test taker?

Back in the day when vendors were interested in Web site traffic, following click streams was all the rage and database oriented analytics packages were sufficient to meet the need.  Click stream analysis did not rely on real time number crunching and conventional analytics and data warehouse technology served the purpose.  Now fast forward to the near future and you might realize that conventional analytics won’t cut the mustard for one simple reason.  Where click streams generated giga- to tera-byte log files, streaming media generates peta-bytes of data and unlike click stream data streaming media logs need to be analyzed in real-time.

Conventional analytics is no match for the volume of data and the real-time demand of media streams.

Ok, you say, so what’s the solution?  Clearly it involves real time or near real time analysis of streaming web log data but such systems are only coming to market now. Most media server vendors don’t even supply analysis tools for their own gear and at this point vendors with a need to know what’s happening to their content are up the creek.

So it comes back to this — marketers might have great tools for creating streaming content users might get a kick out of consuming it but, at the moment, we don’t have the tools we need to do for streaming media what Nielson has done for commercial TV for decades (though admittedly Nielson does not provide its results in real time). Consequently, it’s hard to convince a savvy marketer to make an ad buy.

I expect this is only temporary and some enterprising startup vendor is at work developing the tools that will be needed to make content consumption realistic and profitable.

So, what did you think?

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