How do you break the limits imposed by traditional media and create award-winning interactive work for clients such as Netflix and Twentieth Century Fox? By making interactions between brands and consumers more relevant, inclusive, and less self-serving.
For Verizon EdgeCast client Ignition Creative, pioneering new forms of storytelling with technology is at the core of this pursuit.
Strategic partner for award winning work
“We need to anticipate our clients’ digital needs and develop products that allow them to stay ahead,” says Aaron Buchanan, VP of Technology, Ignition Interactive. “We see ourselves as a strategic partner to studios or content owners and craft the messaging for an entire campaign, stunt marketing, or video.”
A recent and award-winning example of this philosophy is Ignition’s work for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. “One year ahead of a movie release we expand on the storyworld and created content that the films core audience devoured,” describes Buchanan the approach to creating awareness and excitement.
For Prometheus, Ignition created a months-long campaign that expertly combined a mix of social, traditional, and transmedia storytelling to bring the fictional entity of Weyland Industries - the mysterious corporation behind Project Prometheus - to life.
Sustaining traffic spikes of viral campaigns
Over the course of the Prometheus campaign, fans were treated to an array of interactive experiences, original photo & video content, and detailed background information about the world of Prometheus. The campaign has been held up as a benchmark example for digital marketing by Forbes, Mashable, Ad Age and Fast Company, and helped the movie to gross over $400 million worldwide.
Weyland Industries microsite
For Buchanan, the success of such viral campaigns not only depends on great storytelling, but also on deploying scalable technology solutions. “We need to be able to endure this virality from an infrastructure standpoint,” he explains. “For example, we built a website for Netflix’s Arrested Development. The show received over 4 billion pre-launch tweet impressions and was picked up by major media outlets. Having partners like EdgeCast allowed us to deliver at scale with confidence, regardless of how many sites picked up our story and drove traffic spikes.”
In addition to viral waves of traffic, new forms of storytelling also require new forms of online advertising, which can drive similar traffic patterns of rich content.
Telling a story with online advertising
By Hanni Chehak, Marketing Manager, EdgeCast
In last’s week’s news, there was lots of buzz around EdgeCast customer and social media icon Twitter. According to several sources, Twitter is seeking commerce solutions to integrate into the latest iteration of their platform, and is hiring accordingly.
The perceived hope is to capture a sizeable portion of the online commerce market by capitalizing on their younger, more adept mobile user base. According to the 2013 Millennials Study by Verizon Digital Media Services, Twitter is the second most popular social network among millennials; they also use it almost twice as much as non-millennials (48% vs. 29%). The same study showed that millennials shop more often online than non-millennials (72% vs. 62% shopped online within the last three weeks).
A pioneer in mobile
More than any other social media platform, Twitter validates the pure potential and opportunity that lies within mCommerce. Twitter pioneered the mobile space when they launched their platform in 2006 with an intentional mobile centric business strategy, calling mobile the “primary driver of our business”.
Eight years later and post-IPO, 75% of their user base connects from a mobile device and 65% of their ad revenue comes from mobile devices.
David Mercer of the Digital Consumer Practice stated in a TechCrunch article in 2013: “The immediacy of Twitter communications requires devices which are close to hand at every waking moment […] by definition this suggests mobile phones and tablets should be preferred devices for Tweeting.”
Imperative to Twitter’s widespread success has been their commitment to performance optimization and delivering content to users anywhere, anytime. To any aspirational business this means a thoughtful strategy around mobile performance and optimization can no longer be an after thought, instead, it must be understood as a priority and a key to success.
Below are three best practices that our clients and partners recommend to prepare your mobile site for the mobile generation of shoppers:
1. Focus on optimizing your mobile assets
Know your content, and understand why not all content can, or should be delivered the same way.
If your technology is ‘Changing the Rules of Business’ (according to Wired), then you are certainly serious about maximizing web performance.
For Optimizely, page load time has never been more important. Its rule changing technology relies on snippets that are loaded along with the pages being tested. Dogan Ugurlu, software engineer at Optimizely, explains on the company’s blog:
Any third party code snippet you add to a web page will impact its overall load time. This is because, in most cases, the third party code needs to finish loading before the rest of the page can begin to load. If the vendor providing the code is doing a good job, that impact should be so small that your visitors don’t notice it at all.
Prior to signing up with EdgeCast, Optimizely relied on a single CDN to deliver its snippets. In order to maximize its performance, the company’s web performance team decided to try adding another — and wrote an in-depth white paper about the results (The Most Misleading Measure of Response Time: How Optimizely Dramatically Improved Response Times with CDN Balancing).
The following data was previously published in that white paper and shows the positive impact of adding EdgeCast to Optimizely’s CDN mix:
Overall, CDN balancing resulted in a dramatic improvement in response times for visitors at every point along the distribution curve. Here are a few key percentile statistics to illustrate just how significant the results were:
By Nathan Moore, EdgeCast/Verizon Web Performance Team
EdgeCast competes heavily on performance. We work very hard to make the Internet faster, more reliable, and more robust. One of the ways we do this is through our partnerships with third party monitors.
We measure our real-world performance constantly across the globe to ensure that we identify and react to any problems quickly and efficiently. The goal: eliminate any potential difficulty that can get between end users and their content.
Our friend and ally: third party monitors
Our third party monitors help us to improve ourselves while providing the assurance and validation that our service legitimately performs to both our and our customers’ expectations.
The below presentation was given recently at a small web performance conference, showing both the general operating theory behind our use of third party monitors and three specific use case examples demonstrating the value that they bring.
The use of synthetic and real world monitoring
We use both synthetic and real world monitoring to ensure delivery quality and performance. This presentation shows three recent EdgeCast examples of how we deploy these testing techniques to optimize our vast, global network.1. Transact: Launching a whole new global network
Launching a new product is always difficult. Doubly so when the word “worldwide” is attached to it. The challenge before us was to take our
By the EdgeCast Application Support Team
In live streaming, all that matters is the viewing experience for end users. To make sure your next live event reaches its remote audience smoothly across devices, we collected the top 5 helpful tips for setting up a live stream.
1. Identify your audience
Start by asking yourself: who is going to watch the stream? On which device are they likely going to follow the event? Will you have a higher share of desktop or mobile devices tuning in?
Anticipating the predominant user device will help you select the right stream format, whether it is HLS/HDS or Flash streaming.
2. Assume bandwidth limitations
To have a jitter free experience, your users need enough bandwidth available. Identifying the type and strength of their internet connection, paired with your insights about your audience from tip 1, will determine how to encode the live stream even for inferior connection speeds.
3. Select encoder and bitrate
The streaming platform of your choice should offer multi bitrate encoding (recommended formats are: HLS, HDS or Flash). Depending on the platform, decide on the bitrate you will be utilizing on the encoder to cover the last mile capabilities of your audience.
Below is an example of a multi-bitrate profile utilizing Flash Media Live Encoder 3.2 (Adobe’s free encoder program) as the encoder software and using EdgeCast Flash services as the platform being used. The example xml profile being used requires at least 1500 Kbps upstream capability from the encoder and allows last mile clients to view the multi-bitrate streams with a download capability of 150, 300 and 650 Kbps.
With this scenario in mind, we would recommend using a dedicated 3000 Kbps of upload capability from the encoder’s network to the ingest location to ensure enough bandwidth is available.
by Francis Potter, Director of Product for Portals and APIs, EdgeCast Networks
Ever since Amazon launched its S3 service in 2006, companies around the world have flocked to cloud storage solutions for their high availability, simplicity, and flexibility. Sometimes, storage of files and objects, accessed through an API, fits into a plan for an application or system. But other times, a company might want to share its stored content globally. If the audiences are big or performance is important, then distribution through a CDN becomes critical.
Seamless integration using EdgeCast’s RESTful APIs
It might sound complicated to configure a CDN to interface with a cloud storage solution. But EdgeCast’s partner SoftLayer has solved the problem with our easy-to-use RESTful APIs.
SoftLayer’s object storage product hits its 2nd birthday next month. Marc Jones, SoftLayer Vice President of Product Innovation, says that CDN integration was a requirement from the very beginning. “We already had a relationship with EdgeCast and liked everything about the core CDN platform. We also needed automation around account creation and management, and EdgeCast already had that as well. We wanted integration with object storage to be as seamless as possible — without customers having to learn the ins and outs of both.”
One checkbox. That’s all it takes.
The SoftLayer team started with the popular OpenStack Swift platform, and augmented its API to make the CDN integration feel natural to the end user. “Everything in OpenStack is based in Python,” says Marc. “We wrote our own middleware that handled the CDN interactions, and made it possible for customers to CDN-enable any container in their storage with just one checkbox in our UI.”
Just one click away: CDN self-enablement in SoftLayer’s UI
Moving content closer to the end user
By Andre Cheung, Director of Global Alliances, EdgeCast (a previous version of this post was published on Andre’s blog).
A recent Devoncroft’s 2013 Big Broadcast Survey (BBS) shows multi-platform content delivery is the most important trend considered by the broadcasting industry. It is not surprising news considering the time we spend viewing videos on non-TV devices, especially smartphones and tablets.
HTTP Live Streaming
Video streaming on iOS devices is supported by HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). HLS democratizes video streaming: everyone can now easily stream bitrate adaptive videos to iOS devices by using a low cost HTTP codec.
The challenges of streaming to Andriod
In comparison, it is much more challenging to stream videos to other mobile platforms. Here is a good reference article from EdgeCast client LongTail: The Pain of Live Streaming on Android
Now that we can easily stream videos to iOS devices, how do we measure the video performance? How do we validate that HLS videos delivered from a CDN are much better than those delivered from the customer origin? Which bitrate adaptive video stream on my demo page – HLS Performance Measurement – provides a better experience?
HLS Performance Measurement
Rather than subjective measurement by eye, PocketProbe Free from Bridge Technologies provides an objective test of the HLS video experience:
I did some PocketProbe tests around 12:30pm on June 26, 2013 (Hong Kong time). Left is the test result of the stream directly from the customer origin (CO); on the right is the result from the CDN:
By Dan Franklin, Segment Manager Commerce, EdgeCast
As of early December, Christmas sales were looking modest. Right after Black Friday, ShopperTrek reported that even though the immediate post-Thanksgiving sales were up 2.3 percent from last year, it’s still predicted that foot traffic for the whole season will be down. Where has that traffic gone? Online.
Adobe says more than $1 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Day alone, and eBay sales are estimated to be 30-35 percent higher than last year. According to Walker Sands, only 1 percent of US consumers with Internet access don’t shop online.
Mobile shopping is the new mainstream
And, more and more, that ecommerce is moving from computers to mobile devices. Mobile has become a more comfortable and regular place for people to shop. According to Millward Brown Digital, mobile shoppers are actually visiting more websites, on average, than people using PCs. Mobile commerce isn’t some niche anymore; it’s mainstream and certainly the future of ecommerce.
Last Christmas, Wal-Mart reported that 40 percent of all visits to its online store that month came from mobile devices. Estimates for this shopping season top 50 percent. We’re way past the early-adopter phase. So the question is how to make that mobile shopping experience excellent.
For a mobile commerce experience to be as satisfying as one that takes place on a full-size computer, sellers need to make sure the mobile shopping experience is both seamless and fast.
Create a seamless experience
Here are three tips to make sure your mobile users will have a seamless shopping experience:
1. Build a Responsive site.
With the help of EdgeCast’s ADN, goedekers.com ensures fast loading times and a superior user experience during traffic spikes.
From modest beginnings as a home-based repair shop back in 1951, Goedeker’s has grown to become one of the largest independent retailers in America today. Offering brand name appliances, home furniture, and mattresses, Goedeker’s has earned a trusted name and outstanding reputation.
“What we’ve done is focus on customer service. We want our customers to feel as though they are buying from a hometown company”, explains Matt Davids, Director of SEO and Reputation Management at goedekers.com. “Everyone who visits goedekers.com will see our philosophy proudly displayed there. These are sincerely-held beliefs that shape how we deal with our customers.”
Part of this promise to customers is ensuring a superior shopping experience online. “We want to provide the best possible experience to our customers, from the first time they visit our site through their last purchase from us”, says Jeff Minor, CTO of goedekers.com. “A great site that is fast is imperative to meeting this goal. When site speed suffers, we immediately see and hear its impact from our customers.”
Before moving goedekers.com on to the EdgeCast network, the site experienced these kind of performance challenges. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2012, the website crashed twice due to high traffic. Also, the average page load time skyrocketed to over 16 seconds during that period.
Fast forward to 2013: After implementing EdgeCast’s Application Delivery Network (ADN), Goedeker’s team did not have to worry about web performance and uptime during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
By Jacqueline Mak, Software Architect, and Gustavo Terraciano, Manager, Software Engineering, EdgeCast Portals Team
Every day, our EdgeCast REST APIs get around 1.5 million requests. Roughly a third of those are customer purge requests. In order to handle this enormous (and growing) amount of data, our technology has to constantly evolve.
A critical part of this scaling process is deploying high performant hardware. At the same time, we are improving our network’s ability to respond more quickly to API requests, so more calls can be processed.
The move from SOAP to REST API in late 2009
As a means to offer a framework for data integration to our clients, in 2006 we started providing SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to retrieve account information, to manage CDN configurations, and to receive reporting information.
Back then, SOAP was the industry standard for the Microsoft stack and provided a secure way of automatically exchanging account information between us and our clients.
Limitations of SOAP
Since SOAP relies on a very strict XML specification, we experienced several integration issues with clients that were not using Microsoft technology. SOAP libraries for different technologies were not standardized, which resulted in problems for our clients that were using languages such as Java (in this particular case, we couldn’t parse and serialize a SOAP envelope to Java).