How Viacom uses Big Data in practice
Viacom is combining its network data with cutting-edge real-time analytics to improve viewer experience and grow its audience.
As viewers, we’re all familiar with online videos either failing to load or constantly stuttering as they rebuffer. To combat this, Viacom has built a real-time analytics platform that constantly monitors the quality of video feeds and reallocates resources in real-time when it thinks it will be needed. Dan Morris, senior director of product analytics, told me, “We’re able to take all this raw data and do two things – surface trends, and isolate areas of opportunity to present a superior viewing experience.” Thanks to improvements driven by analytics, Viacom has been able to reduce the time it takes a video to start playing to around one third of what it was.
In terms of growing its audience, the company deduced, through analytics, that it needs to get viewers hooked on at least two individual shows for them to become loyal Viacom viewers. Morris said, “What we found is that if we can get you to watch two shows, you’re 350% more likely to stay with us. If we can get you to watch four shows, that goes up to 700%.” This meant that the focus could move to getting customers who already regularly enjoy one show to trying out one or two more.
The technical details
Viacom has built a real-time analytics platform based around Apache Spark and Databricks. As Morris explained, “There’re a lot of variables at play – we have internal systems talking to external systems, we have content delivery, we have ad severs, and on the user side there’s a whole bunch of environmental factors like wi-fi connectivity.”
Ideas and insights you can steal
Improving viewer experience and encouraging loyalty among viewers may sound like simple common sense decisions, but the importance here is that these decisions are backed by data. That’s the real power of Big Data: it allows organisations to highlight precisely which “common sense” decisions they should spend time and money implementing, rather than relying on guesswork and gut-feeling.
You can read more about how companies are using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.
Bernard Marr is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and advisor to companies and governments. He has worked with and advised many of the world's best-known organisations. LinkedIn has recently ranked Bernard as one of the top 10 Business Influencers in the world (in fact, No 5 - just behind Bill Gates and Richard Branson). He writes on the topics of intelligent business performance for various publications including Forbes, HuffPost, and LinkedIn Pulse. His blogs and SlideShare presentation have millions of readers.