The average Canadian watches 26 hours of video per week, with half of the population watching through on-demand services such as Netflix and 45 per cent watching on smartphones, according to a 2015 Ericsson Inc. study – and those percentages are only going to rise, with the Swedish telecom giant predicting a tenfold increase in global Internet traffic by 2021, 70 per cent of which will be generated by online video.

With its own researchers predicting a potential audience of that size, and myriad content producers vying for their attention, it should come as no surprise that Ericsson itself is stepping forward with a data analysis tool that will help companies maximize their efforts to reach such technologically-savvy viewers.

Launched worldwide Jan. 21, Integrated Video Insights (IVI) aggregates and analyzes the user data collected by video services and media players to let companies know which audiences are watching something, how they’re watching it, and why, and how they can adapt accordingly.

“The platforms, the ecosystems that are delivering all this [online video] are also gathering a lot of data in their own right – in a sense they’re watching back, capturing what the viewer is seeing, on what device, where they are, when they turn away, what they go to next,” Guy Beverlin, Ericsson’s head of global TV and media practice business unit global services, said in a webcast explaining IVI. “There is opportunity here. Opportunity for the operators we work with and for video service providers generally, if they can unlock the value in this data.”

Beverlin stressed the importance of reaching online audiences on their own terms, and IVI offers its users a start-to-finish framework for doing so, he said. Video content producers and owners can use IVI to improve content delivery strategies, identify the investments needed to increase average revenue per consumer, and ensure their content is viewed in the best possible way. Its tools can be used as both a standalone program or as part of the Ericsson Expert Analytics suite.

Many video-on-demand content producers already take advantage of the sort of data analyzed by IVI, and provide a useful illustration of its benefits, Solomon Israel, the vice-president of business development of TV and media management practice with Ericsson’s North America division, told ITBusiness.ca.

For example, 40 per cent of Canadian broadcast TV viewers say they can’t find anything to watch on a daily basis, and the rate is higher for millennials, at 62 per cent.

“There’s a great quote that I have from someone that basically says, ‘I pay a service provider $200 a month for a subscription. I’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch, but I consume Netflix on a daily basis,’” Israel said.

The irony, of course, is that the customer’s service provider has a much deeper catalogue than Netflix, he said – but Netflix has invested a tremendous amount of time and money into programming a robust recommendation and presentation algorithm that divides its offerings into categories ranging from “Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy” to “Zombie Horror Movies,” and automatically recommends related content once a viewer has watched something all the way through (and therefore, presumably liked it), making further material easier to consume.

Israel also cites a personal example involving Amazon Prime: he and his daughter once rented a movie from the service that wound up taking such a long time to load they gave up in frustration.

“I received an e-mail the next morning saying, ‘we understand you had a bad experience,’” he said. “I never called… They were monitoring how well the performance was going, and they saw there were a whole series of restarts.”

The result: a refund, an apology, and an anecdote that serves as a recommendation for Amazon Prime, rather than a warning against it.

IVI will give other companies with fewer resources than Amazon or Netflix the same type of advantages, Israel said.

“What Ericsson is doing with this Integrated Video Insights solution is providing pay TV operators with a mechanism to get to that same point – to be able to operate in an Internet paradigm and be able to improve that overall customer experience,” he said.

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