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BizReport : Internet : November 20, 2012

Study reveals impact of poor online video performance on viewer behavior

It's not just slow websites that cause consumers to abandon content. New research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst reveals how poor video performance causes viewers to abandon videos more often, view videos for a lesser time, and return to the same site less frequently.

by Helen Leggatt

By analyzing 6.7 million unique viewers from around the globe who watched a total of 23 million videos for 216 minutes over 10 days, researcher Professor Ramesh K. Sitaraman uncovered interesting insights about viewers' behavioral responses to slow-starting videos, re-buffering or failed visits.

While it's widely recognized that slow-loading websites cause Internet users to abandon, Sitaraman found the same of online video. Viewers were found to begin to abandon a video if start-up does not occur within the first 2 seconds, with each additional second of delay resulting in a 5.8% increase in abandonment rate. Furthermore, viewers typically abandon at a larger rate for short-form video than longer videos.

"Our work breaks new ground in understanding viewer abandonment and repeat viewership," concludes the report 'Video Stream Quality Impacts Viewer Behavior: Inferring Causality using Quasi-Experimental Designs'. "Further, it sheds more light on the known correlational impact of quality on viewer engagement by establishing its causal impact."

Other findings from the report include:

- Viewers experiencing a re-buffer delay that equals or exceeds 1% of the video duration played 5.02% less of the video compared with a viewer who experienced no re-buffering;

- A failed visit, where a video fails to play, decreased the likelihood of that viewer returning to the content provider's site within a week by 2.32%.

Tags: consumer behavior, online video, research, video best practices, video performance

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