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Rich's Media: Enterprise Viewing Metrics and SCORM
Nielsen Media is well-known for measuring consumer TV viewing, and its metrics make dollars and sense for TV advertisers. Enterprise broadcasters could use surveys such as Nielsen's to get insight into the viewing behavior of their broadcasts, but the rule of large numbers tends to erode quickly.
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Nielsen Media is well-known for measuring consumer TV viewing, and its metrics make dollars and sense for TV advertisers.

Enterprise broadcasters could use surveys such as Nielsen's to get insight into the viewing behavior of their broadcasts, but the rule of large numbers tends to erode quickly. It's not because the enterprise does not have large numbers; some enterprises have more viewers than their local cable TV operators. But enterprise video streaming is usually highly specialized, and each program may be for a very small but very important audience. These broadcasts may be a big yawn for you, but they are pure gold for the target audience.

The success of a broadcast in the enterprise can't be measured based on the number of viewers. Enterprise systems deliver information, not entertainment, and it's difficult to put a value on this. If a company's bottom line goes up after installing an enterprise video system, can you attribute it to the new system? What if the company's fortunes turn south after such deployment? Enterprises report many soft benefits, but they are usually hard-pressed to cite viewing numbers that can be linked to profit directly.

Some systems have begun to address this in pretty meaningful ways. Taking a clue from elearning systems that use quizzes and tests, these systems embed short, easy-to-answer survey questions in the live and on-demand broadcast. It turns out that these surveys are a ruse. They exist to do what Nielsen can't: They tell you with great precision not only who is "tuned in" but who is actually watching.

Say your boss told you to watch a training video. Knowing that viewing could affect your performance review, you log in to the system and select the video, and it starts to play. You decide you can just let it play while you do something else. You know that the system administrator can accurately report that you indeed tuned in and indeed played the video for its duration. But periodically throughout the video there is a simple quiz: "If there is a fire, you should evacuate. True or False." The quizzes appear just long enough for you to answer the question. If you have any knowledge at all in the subject, you can't fail. The system records your answers along with other statistics and reports that you viewed the whole video if you answered all the questions.

Systems that support this kind of detail are ideal for education and training, and some are fully SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)-compliant. SCORM is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense that dates from 1996 and was updated as recently as 2009. Systems that use SCORM concepts can give enterprises some pretty useful features, not the least of which is learning metrics. Systems that can verify that a viewer has actually viewed a program using quizzes can provide formal testing as well. You view Chapter 1 and, based on the results of the proficiency test, you continue to Chapter 2 or branch to a remedial video. When viewers complete the training, they are awarded a certificate, and their human resources profiles are automatically updated.

Typically, elearning systems have been the province of schools and corporate training departments. But there is increasing overlap between enterprise video and elearning systems, and enterprises would do well to look for systems that provide this level of metrics. Hard numbers can show that the proficiency or productivity of employees is higher after deploying an enterprise video system. After all, this is what enterprise video is all about.