Of the 1000+ customers who took our CDN survey and were asked "What value added services are you willing to pay a premium price for", over 75% of them said something having to do with better reporting and analytics with the most common answer being something along the lines of "Better reporting – and did I mention better reporting!!!"
So it will come as no surprise that analytics and reporting was also the number one answer when we asked "In your opinion, what is the one thing your CDN needs to improve on". While most CDNs I speak to know how big of a deal reporting is, very few seem to be taking the issue seriously. Much of what customers are getting today in terms of data is very basic and is at most, raw data that is presented to look pretty but with no analytics to tell them what the data means. I know that some CDNs will say that reporting and analytics is hard as the log files they are dealing with are so big and that many customers have custom reporting needs. That is true, but there should be some base line minimums, and when many CDNs reporting interface can’t even tell a customer during a live event how many simultaneous streams they are doing, the basics are missing.
Looking over the survey data, here were some of the most common comments from customers:
- real-time reporting for live events
- analytics reporting is technical only, not enough marketing oriented
- reporting based on geographic region
- reporting based on sub-accounts
- monitoring/analytics APIs
- self service reporting tools have a terrible interface
- access to geographical based reporting, such as the map in Google analytics to determine local advertising impact
- analytics for Flash content
- providing metrics in a timely fashion
- looking at how long each video is played on average, are people dropping half way through?
- Analytics a little bit limited, e.g. can’t choose custom time frame (3 day for instance), also the reporting does not translate UTC to our local time
- Reporting over longer periods of time (currently only 6 months)
- detailed user analysis (who watched what for how long from where)
- an API for accessing and displaying the tracking data, so that I could create my own "dashboard" to show real time stats
- I would like an API where I can get raw metrics to feed into our internal report structure. We use several CDN’s and each has their own reports. We spend too much time translating data to produce a single comprehensive report.
- reporting and analytics and the ability to parse it out by stream/customer
- push default reports I want to me, rather than me have go get them
- views per day, views per geographic location, length of each view then an aggregate % per day
From all the customers I speak to, the feedback I have heard is that Akamai and EdgeCast have the best reporting products in the market. That’s not to say that others may not also have a good functioning products, but those two are the ones I hear the most compliments about from customers. I think every CDN in the business should have a real reporting account on their homepage that anyone can log right into so that you can see first hand what their reporting and analytics package looks like. Too many times customers tell me that when they ask about reporting, most CDNs send them a product sheet with some screen grabs of the interface.
Reporting, and more importantly analytics, needs to get better a lot faster. Customers have to be able to show the value in these services, measure their success and justify why they should spend more money to deliver more content. While I see many of the CDNs all going to the market with the same message about performance, reliability, high-quality etc…. most of which don’t really mean anything to a customer anymore anyway, why not create a really good analytics package and use that as your go to market message? It would stand out from the rest of the commodity marketing terms CDNs use, would resonate well with customers and is a functionality of the service all customers need.