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Akamai Study Uncovers Critical Link Between Video Quality and Audience Retention, Revenue Opportunities


Study examines consumer reaction and consequences of low-quality video experiences; 60% are less likely to return to a site if the viewing experience is poor, and close to 50% will seek video content from a competing Website

CAMBRIDGE, MA.- Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: AKAM), the leading service provider for accelerating content and applications online, released a study today exploring two fundamental elements related to the future success of online video: consumer preferences around video consumption and consumer reaction to low-quality viewing experiences. The most compelling results reveal that, having experienced poor video performance at an Internet site, more than half of online video users would seek content from a competing Website, and a quarter would leave with a more negative brand perception and be less likely to return to the poorly performing site.

According to the study conducted by JupiterResearch, the consequences for a Website where video content underperforms are a significant loss in goodwill, return visitors and potential advertising revenues. As content owners and publishers invest seriously in broadband video as a means to increase advertising revenues, develop new revenue streams or create emotional connections with their brands (from short form clips to longer form, ’high-definition’ video), having a technology partner that can provide stability, reliability and a consistently high quality end-user experience is critical to the success of those initiatives.

“For online publishers and marketers, online video is rapidly becoming a serious component of their business strategies. In order for these initiatives to pay off, the viewing experience must be flawless,” said Brad Rinklin, Vice President of Marketing, Akamai Technologies. “Online publishers and brands are turning to video as a way to differentiate themselves, engage more emotionally with consumers or create premium advertising products to drive more revenue. Akamai understands this, and our broadcast-quality digital media platform consistently provides exceptional viewing experiences for leading publishers so their brand is protected, audience preserved and their advertisers kept happy.”

According to the study, online video that is interrupted for buffering purposes and playback that is slow to begin are the greatest sources of frustration. Sixty percent of frequent online video users (i.e., those who watch online videos at least once per week), are less likely to return to a site for video content if the viewing experience is poor, and close to half will seek their video content from a competing Website. More than a quarter of those users went so far as to say they would be less likely to visit the poorly-performing Website again for any reason and that they would have a more negative overall perception of a site with poorly performing video content.

“Today’s consumers demand immediate start-up times, 100% availability, and an experience that is constant over time. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to meet those expectations when delivering content from a centralized server,” said Mark Larkin, Executive Producer, CNET TV. “Akamai gives us the flexibility to be as creative as we want—and need to be—in order to engage our viewers. None of this would happen unless we were delivering a high-quality, TV-like experience, and Akamai makes that possible.”

The survey also highlighted insight into the appetites of online video consumers. For instance, more than one-quarter of online consumers are interested in bandwidth-intensive video content such as full-length movies and TV programs viewed from their PCs. On the other hand, 42% of online consumers indicate they are less interested in online video content, because they prefer their TVs for a rich viewing experience. Video publishers must therefore focus their technology efforts on minimizing video download times and improving the viewing experience for this requested content, as any interest in long-format video is driven by an expectation of having a similar viewing experience to that of TV.

The study also suggests that online publishers must demonstrate a high quality video experience that is free of choppy playback or other quality issues. Therefore, it is critical that publishers seek technology solutions that bridge the gap between the PC and the TV to ensure a seamless PC viewing experience that rivals the TV viewing experience. Akamai works closely with leading online publishers -- brands like MTV Networks, CNET and MySpace -- to provide a platform for innovation that enables businesses to deliver rich media experiences, attract and retain their audiences, and build new revenue streams.

Survey Methodology
In February 2007, JupiterResearch designed and fielded a survey to online consumers selected randomly from the Ipsos US online consumer panel. A total of 2,319 individuals responded to the survey. Respondents were asked approximately 11 closed-ended questions about their behaviors, attitudes and preferences as they relate to viewing video online. Respondents received an e-mail invitation to participate in the survey with an attached URL linked to the Web-based survey form. The samples were carefully balanced by a series of demographic and behavioral characteristics to ensure that they were representative of the online population. Additionally, JupiterResearch weighted the data by AOL usage, online tenure, and connection speed (broadband versus dial-up), three key determinants of online behavior.

To view the full report, please visit


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