While we hear a lot about the business of delivering video on the internet and shipping bits from point A to point B, one of the most important pieces of the video ecosystem is one that we don't hear much about: reporting and analytics. These terms tend to be used interchangeably in the industry, but in reality, they are really two completely different products that serve two different purposes.
Since most content owners outsource their video delivery needs to a content delivery network, it's important for them to understand what the differences are between reporting packages and analytics packages and the importance these systems play in their business. After all, what's the point of spending a lot of time and money to create, capture, manage and deliver content if you don't have any way to measure your success?
For starters, it's important to understand the differences in reporting and analytics from a feature set perspective, as well what can be expected from a content delivery network. Reporting is something all CDNs offer, although the functionality of the reporting systems tends to vary greatly from one vendor to another.
Reporting is simply the data that is provided to the customer and gives them a very basic, high-level overview of what is taking place with their content. Most reporting systems give stats on the number of videos consumed, what files are most popular, what video formats are being watched, how many unique streams have been served, and a lot of other basic viewer data.
All of the CDNs offering delivery services in the market today have this level of reporting, but there are many differences between their offerings. Most CDNs deliver this data in a web-based interface. Some of these interfaces are easier to use than others, and some may also deliver the data a lot more frequently than others. Some reporting systems are more granular and can provide details down to the geographic location of the viewers, while others can't.
While it sounds like the word analytics could be interchangeable with the term reporting, it shouldn't be. Analytics packages take the raw data from the reporting systems and tell you how viewers are interacting with your content. Analytics tell you about your content business, show you how to monetize your content, tell you what is and is not working, and—when relevant—tie directly into online video advertising. It's great to have the raw data from reporting, but simply knowing how many streams were delivered or how many videos were watched is not enough. Analytics is really where you find out if you are having success with your online video offering.
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