Case Study: Making a "Stickier" Cinema Site
Jaman (www.jaman.com) is a destination site for people who want to discover, watch, and review movies from around the world. The company was founded in 2006 with the goal of pioneering the social aspects of an internet community built around independent and international media. Having curated and assembled one of the world’s largest online libraries of feature films and documentaries, Jaman provides filmmakers and studios a secure way to distribute and market films worldwide.
With an inventory of more than 1,500 films, Jaman is the premier video download service for hard-to-find "world" cinema. Even before beta testing was completed, more than 150,000 users from more than 186 countries had visited Jaman in live demo mode to download movies.
Through marketing initiatives designed to increase product awareness as the site moved out of beta, Jaman’s leadership team anticipated a sizeable traffic increase over the coming year. In the face of this anticipated traffic, Jaman wanted to significantly increase the video download performance of its website worldwide by employing a third-party content delivery network (CDN). The goal was to make the site "stickier," which would translate into improved revenue opportunities.
The Business Challenge
Jaman, which was founded by Informatica co-founder and former CEO Gaurav Dhillon, exists to bring global cinema to a global client base. The company combines the immediacy of internet downloads with social aspects of the interactive web, enabling visitors to browse the movie choices of other Jaman members, to post reviews, and, of course, to download movies from around the world that probably won’t be found at your local video store.
Alec Chattaway, Jaman’s manager of hosted services, says that the choice of a CDN provider was of paramount importance from the company’s inception. He says, "It was imperative that our customers located in remote areas had the same short page load times as the ones situated near us." Otherwise, the customers tended to "bounce" off the site, a potential sale deferred or community member lost. And with such a broad selection of world cinema, the users are just as likely to be located in Santiago, Chile, as San Jose, Calif.
In evaluating CDN providers, Chattaway recalls that there were three major criteria. "Number one was reporting ability; we had to have access to exactly what our users were seeing, because we were ourselves still in beta mode and addressing product-related issues." The second criterion was the usability of the provider; that is, the Jaman team wanted to feel confident that their questions and concerns would be addressed in the same week, if not the same day, that they were raised to the vendor.
The third and final benchmark was the "bounce rate," the measure of how quickly the users leave the site after they arrive. Through user feedback, Jaman knew that dissatisfaction with the speed of its website was the No. 1 cause of the dreaded user bounce—that is, the customer leaving the site immediately after the initial visit. Although Jaman uses a separate network to handle the actual movie downloads, the user’s perception of speed and quality at the Jaman website directly impacts their perception of the overall service and their willingness to download a movie.
The Jaman evaluation team, comprising staff from its engineering and operational groups, set up a test environment in which they could rigorously evaluate each CDN. Chattaway recalls, "We insisted on the ability to do testing and performance measures for a month, without having to sign up, for each CDN vendor." At the end of the testing, EdgeCast had edged out the competition.