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The Business of Stream Metrics: Quantifying Quality

A Historical Viewpoint
The science of stream measurement had been of interest to academics studying the Internet for years but stream metrics began to look like a commercial opportunity in early 2000. At the Streaming Media East 2000 conference in New York City, June 2000, one of the conference breakout sessions was titled "Tracking, measuring & reporting streaming media usage/viewers - the issues with being accountable to your advertisers." Panelists from Exodus Communications' Service Metrics division, iBEAM Broadcasting, Media Metrix, and BRC Media discussed the importance of collecting different types of data on hosted streams and, at a time when streaming media was primarily aimed at consumers, how advertisers might use the information to improve the monetization of streams.

Media Metrix was the only company who had a panel-based measurement system, based on 50,000 live Internet users in North America running Media Metrix software on their computers. Bruce Ryon, the general manager of the Digital Media group, reported that approximately 30 to 40% of those on the Internet were watching some type of streaming. At the time, most content providers sought streaming server logs. Logs can tell you how many people have requested the file and can compile information such as the domain from which the file request was placed. Lariat Software (later purchased by enScaler) had a package that could consolidate logs from different servers and perform a variety of analyses. iBEAM called this "standard" reporting. In addition, the iBEAM logs were analyzed and segmented traffic by subject matter and viewer profiles for advertisers intent on targeting the "right" audiences with the "right" content. Logs, everyone agreed, fail to provide information about the quality of the experience or how long programming was sent before the user interrupted the stream but they were relatively easy to obtain.

While neither Keynote nor Streamcheck were represented on the panel, both companies introduced their first generation platforms for stream quality measurement on the tradeshow floor at Streaming Media East 2000.

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