Mobile video continues to be the single definitional “over the top” content type giving mobile operators fits. Operators have watched as video has rapidly climbed from a negligible portion of their data traffic to becoming the single most impactful content type by a mile – with huge repercussions on the overall customer experience as well.
The most recent Cisco VNI report pegs global mobile video as growing from 2.6 exabytes of data today, in 2014, to 15.9 exabytes in 2018 – a mere four years later. That’s a tremendous amount of Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and YouTube traffic – to say nothing of the many OTT video apps that either haven’t been invented yet or that are gestating in dormant code at this writing.
When an operator needs to dig into what users are actually doing on their networks, there are a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that’ll let them know whether their customers are having a pain-free video viewing experience – or if they’re suffering from excessive video buffering, stalling and long start times.
Here, then, are the 5 Mobile Video KPIs that no mobile operator in 2014 should be without:
1.Video stalling rate – This is the number of streamed videos that experience some stalling, i.e. the spinning wheel. Guess what? Customers don’t like it – and when they don’t like it, they’re generally not too fond of their operator, either.
2.Video stalling percentage – What percentage of a video’s playback time is actually spent stalling? The higher it is, the far greater likelihood the customer will give up on their video – and blame their network operator, most likely.
3.Video start time (in seconds) – How long did it take for videos to start, and what is the distribution of those start times? Operators are always aiming to keep this number as low as possible.
4.Distribution of bitrates – Videos are delivered in many sizes, from bandwidth-busting HD bitrates to optimized, smaller-sized bitrates that often allow the video to play more smoothly. Big jumps in the distribution of any one bitrate could mean that a major OTT content publisher like YouTube or Vine has changed their encoding – often a big network warning signal.
5.Abandon rate on videos played – One of the most important metrics of all. How often do consumers abandon their videos? Combine and cross-correlate this number with video stalling rate, and you’ll gain some very actionable customer intelligence.
These KPIs serve multiple masters within an operator organization. First and foremost, there are the network planners, who use these metrics as input tools for how and where to build out, revamp or otherwise improve the network – or as inputs for how best to deploy mobile video optimization software to improve the quality of experience. Second, there is the marketing team, who need to know whether operator-managed and -endorsed video apps are meeting consumer expectations; this team also has a major stake in reducing the operator’s overall rate of customer churn. Finally, the operations team uses these KPIs to make business decisions on allocation of network resources. When a network is managing the explosion of mobile video effectively, the decisions are easy, and yet rarely is this the case in today’s world of rapidly-increasing bitrates and new OTT video apps coming onto networks each month by the dozens.
It’s becoming clear to operators in 2014 that not measuring these items in detail is simply no longer an option. Simply put: measuring, monitoring and then fixing the mobile video experience is quickly becoming good business for operators, and an essential component of a churn-reducing, value-creating, long-term customer and market strategy.
Jay Hinman is head of B2B marketing for Opera Software.