FreeWheel Q1 VMR: A Closer Look at Authentication at the Intersection of Content, Viewers, and Experience
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Song (Free) Du
By Song (Free) Du,
VP, Engineering

In the Q1 2016 Video Monetization Report (VMR), entitled The Shared Throne of Premium Video we released a first look at user and device level behaviors to better understand the interconnectedness between content, viewers, and experiences. In this blog, we explore the pivotal role authentication plays in that equation.

Authentication allows consumers access to content after logging into a content destination using their cable or satellite provider’s credentials to enjoy long-form (20+ mins.) and live streaming content (i.e. Using your Cablevision login on to catch the Cavaliers forcing Game 7 of the NBA Finals). Authentication is what drives the TV Everywhere model that is taking our industry by storm.

Our Q1 analysis demonstrated how authenticated users are really, really valuable to Publishers – in fact, authenticated users on average see 2.3X more ads in a given day than non-authenticated users. It’s important for Programmers to understand the authenticated user base, as these users drive a disproportionate share of ad views. Data this quarter reveals that 52% of unique users authenticated, but they drove 72% of all ad views.  Authentication has grown at an incredible 177% CAGR over the past three years, from 7% to 72% of ad views

Taking a deeper dive into the authentication data and analysis not covered in the Q1 VMR, we further segmented authentication users to observe (or demonstrate) the interconnectedness between content, viewers and experiences at the genre- and device- level.

Ad Views Per User Per Day Authenticated vs. Non Aunthenticated

Long-form and live Programmer content only, sample of Q1 2016 data, excludes Financial News category due to lack of sample within FreeWheel data.

The chart above compares ad views per user per day for non-authenticated and authenticated users across genres. The blue dots represent the ratio of ad views between authenticated and non-authenticated users – so the higher this multiple, the more authentication matters. Remember, in the Q1 VMR, we identified that authenticated users watch 2.3 times more ad views per day than non-authenticated users – this should be considered our baseline. What’s fascinating is that this varies widely by genre.

The data above illustrates that within every single genre, authenticated users watch more ads than non-authenticated users. Interestingly, the genre with the most ad views, Sports, the multiple between authenticated to non-authenticated is very close to industry average. Drama, Reality, and Comedy, the largest entertainment genres, showcase multiples slightly lower than the average for all three.

The three genres where this multiple comes in significantly above average are News, Documentary, and Sketch. This implies that these genres may contain two distinct cohorts of users – a smaller group that watches more ads, and a larger group that watches fewer ads and thus drags down the genre average as a whole. Authentication is a great metric to delineate between these two cohorts:

  • News: 43% of users authenticate, but drive 72% of ad views
  • Sketch: 26% of users authenticate, but drive 58% of ad views
  • Documentary: 13% of users authenticate, but drive 34% of ad views

As you can see above, authenticated viewers drive a disproportionately high share of ad views within these genres.

Next, let’s take a look at authentication behavior by device:


Long form and live Programmer content only, sample of Q1 2016 data

The chart above illustrates ad views per user per day by device. Here, unauthenticated activity (e.g. “in front of the wall”), impressions per user do not vary as much across devices as it does for authenticated activity (e.g. “behind the wall”). It seems like unauthenticated users simply do not consume too many ads per day, no matter where they’re watching the content. We’re still exploring what’s occurring behind the scenes here to drive this revelation.

Now, within authentication and in TV-style environments such as OTT, viewers clearly lean back and binge. In the Q1 VMR, we observed ad completion and revealed TV-style content and experiences have the highest mid-roll completion rates – both data points imply higher user engagement in TV-style environments.

It’s clear to us at FreeWheel that authentication is not just growing in size, but growing in importance. It serves as the demarcation between engaged users and transient browsers. Of course, it’s incredibly valuable for Programmers to identify their most engaged viewers, while nurturing and growing their viewer base. From our analyses, it’s clear that viewer engagement is driven not just by content but also by where and how viewers watch their content – the experience and the viewer choice. Understanding how all these elements drive viewer engagement can help Programmers make impactful and beneficial decisions surrounding their premium video inventory.

If you haven’t had a chance, download the Q1 2016 Video Monetization Report for full access to this quarter’s insights and analysis.

Download the Q1 2016 VMR



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