July 30, 2009, 12:00 AM

When online retail videos falter, viewers blame the merchant, expert warns

Online video may be a hot merchandising and marketing tool, but when videos fail to load properly on a retail web site, impatient shoppers tend to blame the merchant even if the problem lies off the site, Akamai e-commerce expert Margaret Rivera says.

Online video may be a hot online merchandising and marketing tool, but when videos fail to load properly on a retail web site, impatient shoppers tend to blame the merchant even if the problem lies off the retailer’s site, says Margaret Rivera, industry marketing manager, e-commerce, for Akamai Technologies Inc., a provider of content delivery technology.

“With online video, the three big performance measures are quality, speed and asset management,” Rivera says. “And Akamai has found that issues with quality and speed don’t get blamed on things like the video player a shopper is using, but the on the retail brand of the web site.”

Akamai works with online retailers to help them present online videos that load properly regardless of the technology a site visitor is using, such as slow dial-up Internet access instead of broadband. “Retailers can optimize the video-viewing experience for each shopper based on their Internet connectivity,” Rivera says.

Akamai provides, for example, dynamic streaming technology that automatically adjust video streaming based on a consumer’s Internet connection speed or computer processing power to avoid long video buffering periods that make consumers wait to view an online video.

In addition, Akamai’s product suite includes video management tools that let a web site operator to see how visitors are using the site’s online videos, such as if they view the entire clip or if they tend to drop off at a particular spot in the video. Retailers can then adjust video content to best appeal to their customers, Rivera adds.

Earlier this month, Akamai released a Media Delivery application that supports the streaming of live and high-quality video to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPod touch devices.

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