The Billion Dollar Question in Online Videos: How Video Performance Impacts Viewer Behavior?

Ramesh Sitaraman - University of Massachusetts, Amherst & Akamai Technologies

Nov. 8, 2013, 1 p.m. - Nov. 8, 2013, 2 p.m.


Online video is the killer application of the Internet. It is predicted that more than 85% of the consumer traffic on the Internet will be video-related by 2016. Yet, the future economic viability of online video rests squarely on our ability to understand how viewers interact with video content. For instance: * If a video fails to start up quickly, would the viewer abandon? * If a video freezes in the middle, would the viewer watch fewer minutes? * If videos fail to load, is the viewer less likely to return to the same site? In this talk, we outline scientific answers to these and other such questions, establishing a causal link between video performance and viewer behavior. One of the largest such studies, our work analyzes the video viewing habits of over 6.7 million viewers who in aggregate watched almost 26 million videos. To go beyond correlation and to establish causality, we develop a novel technique based on Quasi-Experimental Designs (QEDs). While QEDs are well known in the medical and social sciences, our work represents its first use in network performance research and is of independent interest. This talk is of general interest and is accessible to a broad audience.

Prof. Ramesh K. Sitaraman is currently in the School of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His research focuses on all aspects of Internet-scale distributed systems, including algorithms, architectures, performance, energy efficiency, user behavior, and economics. As a principal architect, he helped create the Akamai network and is an Akamai Fellow. He is best known for his pioneering role in creating the first large content delivery networks (CDNs) that currently deliver much of the world’s web content, streaming videos, and online applications. Prof. Sitaraman is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award and a Lilly Fellowship. He has served on numerous program committees and editorial boards of major conferences and journals. He received a B. Tech. in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. and a Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University.