A few years ago, StreamingMedia.com posed the question, “Streaming to All Devices: Is It Worth It?” Although the content may be a bit dated, the question remains germane—how should you approach delivery to multiple devices? Should you even worry about delivering to all of them?
In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are getting online more often, through more devices, and staying connected longer! Via phones and tablets and laptops and TVs, users are accessing a surprising amount of content from everywhere. And that trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, in Cisco’s mobile data projections, by 2016 mobile devices will consume 140 exabytes annually of which over 70% will be video.
In re-reading through the StreamingMedia.com article, it comes to a great conclusion—delivering to all the mobile devices creates a significant amount of complexity (and expense) in a video publishing workflow. When you think of it from that angle, “expense” is a critical concern because you are responsible for your workflow. Your gear. Your software. Your problem. And when the device market continues to fragment (embroiled in what seems like an on-going conflict over video encoding standards) it makes the problem even more daunting.
In that case, the question posed by the Streaming Media article makes a lot of sense. There is only so much time in the day to read about new formats, optimize conversion based on best practices, deal with troublesome content encoding, keep your hardware or software up-to-date, etc. You have to remain focused. Get the most “bang for your buck” as they say. And so it seems on the surface that you should focus on the devices with the most impact (i.e., iPads and iPhones). As indicated in the infographic below (an excerpt from a larger graphic developed by Verizon Digital Media Services), Android devices are vastly more fragmented than iOS creating a significant problem for delivering video.
But that fragmentation shouldn’t influence your video conversion strategy. Ignoring any part of the Android market, for example, is essentially alienating your potential audience. Because even as devices are fragmented, consumers are more so. According to Conviva’s 2014 Viewer Experience Report, your digital audience is accessing your online video throughout the day using a multitude of devices:
- 6-10:00AM: Mobile devices – 6.9% of all video streamed daily
- Noon-4:00PM: PC – 16.3% of all video streamed daily
- 7-11:00PM: TV – 36.6% of all video streamed daily
Android fragmentation is only the tip of the iceberg when you think about all of the other devices to which you can make your online video available.
So what ultimately happens if your video isn’t available on the device users are employing? Missed opportunity. But not just for purchasing and ad impressions, for your brand as well. If you consider Facebook’s brand uplift and video advertising impact study, the “miss” is pretty catastrophic with respect to recall and awareness. As indicated in Facebook’s analysis of Nielsen data for online ad video (Figure 1),
…people who watched under three seconds of the video ad created up to 47 percent of the total campaign value, and people who watched for fewer than 10 seconds created up to 74 percent, depending on the metric. That means that while lift continued to increase the longer people watched, people didn’t have to watch a whole video to be affected by the ad. Even video views under 10 seconds effectively build awareness and drive purchase intent.
It would seem that every device on which your content is not available is a ding against your brand. Users don’t care about your problems with video conversion. Like children demanding a favorite toy, “they want to watch whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want.” Sure, I am extrapolating Facebook’s analysis to all kinds of video (rather than just video ads). But I feel confident concluding that every time your video isn’t available, your brand suffers in awareness and recall just as much as does your monetization. Think about it. If you are generating ad impressions in your videos or charging users a subscription or even enabling click-through purchases, if you aren’t available on every device, your opportunities for generating revenue from your content are consequently limited. It’s probably safe to say, then, that not being available on every device has a negative impact on your business—from brand to revenue generation.
Perhaps the question that StreamingMedia.com posed then should be amended to something like, “Streaming to All Devices: Can You Afford Not To?”
So what can you do? It’s just not feasible, in light of the growing number of devices and the fragmentation within those devices, to tackle this problem yourself and focus on your core business at the same time. I’ve talked to countless customers who have expressed that exact concern. They know they can’t afford not to be on all devices but they can’t afford (either in CAPEX or OPEX) to take on the responsibility of getting the content there themselves.
That’s where service providers step in.
We are at an inflection point in the technology of video delivery. For the first time, there are enough cloud-based resources and software sophistication to enable “publish once, deliver anywhere” functionality. With adequate geographic distribution of those resources, content publishers should be able to get their content to any device without batting an eye. In fact, the onus for transforming content and ensuring it’s delivered falls completely on the service provider.
We have seen companies like Encoding.com and Ooyala tout this exact value proposition. But part of the equation of getting content to every device is having the resources to deliver it. Many of these companies partner with CDNs for delivery. Their “publish once, deliver anywhere service” is, for the most part, an “add on.” If the trend for video consumption is truly any device, anywhere in the world then the technologies to transform that content should be intrinsic to the very nature of delivering it.
As an example, Limelight has launched publish once, deliver anywhere functionality for both video-on-demand (VOD) and live streaming. But it’s not necessarily something that customers sign-up for as a separate product. It’s an aspect of the core streaming and delivery service (Orchestrate Video and Orchestrate Delivery) that Limelight already offers. Customers publish content to our network for delivery around the globe. Why shouldn’t that content be transformed to the right format when users request it? In that sense, the functionality of “publish once, delivery anywhere” is integrated with the very technology that is used to deliver.
So can you afford not to deliver to every device? The simple answer is, “no.” Not only are you missing out on brand uplift, but also purchase opportunities and even other forms of monetization. But should you have to assume the burden of ensuring your content can reach all those devices? As we pass this inflection point, the simple answer is again, “no.” Service providers like Limelight are putting their global compute resources, delivery network, and software to work around the globe so that your content can be automatically available for delivery to any device. For once you’ll be able to reap all the rewards of having your video available on any device (the brand awareness, the monetization, the uplift) without any of the hassle of doing it yourself.