Streaming Media, Mobile Analytics Come to the Fore

Web analytics vendor WebSideStory has unveiled new features of its HBX Analytics platform that allow publishers and marketers to better measure streaming media and mobile device user behavior.

WebSideStory, which has a strong presence among online publisher clients, is seeing more of its clients using rich media and made-for-mobile content to reach their users, according to Rand Schulman, WebSideStory’s CMO.

“From a content side, the geographic borders are going down. This is a completely disruptive technology that will change the face of media in general,” Schulman told ClickZ News. “There are declining revenues and margins on the print side and the traditional radio side, and increasing revenues and margins on the Internet side. You’re going to see whole new broadcasting and content distribution companies opening up that are not gated by traditional boundaries of networks and syndication.”

The disintermediation created by Internet distribution has opened up the media business to many more providers, all with a need to monitor and measure their online channel, Schulman said. Some of these online media companies are offshoots of old media, such as HBX client SignOnSanDiego.com, the online arm of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper.

“As our growth rate relative to the traditional paper continues to climb, we are making significant investments in things like streaming audio and video,” said Chris Jennewein, VP of Internet operations for SignOnSanDiego.

The new streaming media tracking features in HBX track user interaction with streaming audio and video content, served from the client’s site or from an external site. Metrics for the content include number of views, completion rates, and average duration of viewing. Supported media players include Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and RealPlayer.

The mobile device analytics can identify mobile devices used by visitors, with details of device brand and model, as well as service provider.

These kinds of analytics are important both to understand internal marketing efforts, and to quantify audiences for external advertisers, Schulman said.

“HBX gives marketers a huge amount of information that’s not extrapolated from a sample or survey-based data,” he said. “It allows them to see the percent of visitors that watched a complete video, or how many seconds they watched. It lets them adjust their content and advertising based on empirical numbers.”

Both of these new features are available now to all HBX users, without any additional fees or site changes required.

Limited Web analytics for streaming media and mobile Web browsers have been available for some time, but those solutions have always been clumsy, highly customized, one-off solutions, according to Bill Gassman, research director at Gartner.

“By making this a standard feature, WebSideStory is recognizing that streaming media is becoming an important part of media organizations,” Gassman said.

Gassman said the Web analytics market is stronger than it has been than at any time in the past decade, even surpassing the strength seen in the late 1990s.

“As more companies treat their Web site as strategic, Web analytics becomes a more important part of their business,” he said.

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