February 23, 2017

Measuring the Immeasurable

Media technology is evolving so quickly that it’s increasingly difficult to take a clear picture of your content’s performance. To complicate things further, advances that bring content to market faster often lead to innovations that change the demands of the end user. Between these two realities are companies that only thrive when technology and operations align. Across the industry there is a real need to develop and maintain a high-performance operation model that can embrace constant change, capitalize on new technologies, and deliver the measurements that lead to continuous improvement. To get there, a more holistic approach to performance metrics is needed.

What’s the key to KPIs?  

Quality of Experience (QoE) is one of the defining performance metrics of our day. Delivering a consistent quality of experience across devices takes concerted effort and execution; not just from one provider, but possibly from multiple vendors who all contribute specialized processes and best practices to a larger delivery effort. When it comes to a viewer’s experience, the key performance indicators (KPIs) are a constant challenge to improve; but at least they’re fairly straightforward to define. Is the image quality optimal for the viewer’s connection and device? How often does buffering intrude on a program? How easily are consumers finding your content? How are they responding to monetization models?

When it comes to measuring performance within a vendor-rich workflow, KPIs get a lot harder to define and assign. How do you measure quality accurately if the file you delivered goes through a multi-vendor transcoding process before it gets to the end user?  How does a service level agreement build accountability if it doesn’t consider the upstream or downstream impacts of each touch point?

The challenge is not just about end-user quality – it’s also about the value of content.  Monetization models rely on seamless workflow operation almost as heavily as they do on increasing consumer lifetime value. For example, consider the relationship between linear programming and time-shifted video on demand (VOD) viewing. To maximize Nielsen C3 ratings, broadcast VOD assets must be available as close to the original air-time as possible. A program that needs to be available through several different OTT services at once needs to be delivered on time, every time, for value to be assessed accurately.

It takes a smarter village

One way to simplify this complexity is to create a KPI measurement structure that has every player in your workflow ecosystem reading from the same playbook. Again – the pace of technology is not going to relent, so a media distribution strategy needs to consider every piece of hardware and software, physical or virtual, as you create a measurement plan that permeates the entire workflow.

Performance measurement is a perpetual practice. For media companies however, continuous improvement encompasses not just operations and user experiences, but also a close scrutiny of the measurements themselves. The best strategies of 2017 will acknowledge the interdependencies created by every inhabitant of a workflow landscape, and measure success accordingly.