Did you catch FIFA World Cup fever this year? I’m sure many of you did, and for those who didn’t, chances are you heard from an enthused fan or two. One thing was clear: The excite­ment of the World Cup was felt world­wide in 2014, includ­ing right in my own home.

The month-long tour­na­ment was also a prime exam­ple of the rapidly evolv­ing world of online video. It seemed that every broad­cast­ing company—ESPN in the U.S., UNIVISION in Mex­ico, and the Cana­dian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion in Canada—encouraged fans to stream the matches live via their desk­top com­put­ers and mobile devices. And by all accounts, fans tuned in online in huge numbers.

Here’s an anec­dote from the Adobe office here in Utah: We had a fire drill dur­ing one of the US men’s team games, and as we all filed out to the park­ing lot, I noticed a col­league watch­ing the game live on a tablet while mak­ing his way out the door. How’s that for engage­ment? That one moment was indica­tive of the role stream­ing video will play dur­ing live sport­ing events.

Dur­ing the World Cup, the ana­lyt­ics team was able to help the Cana­dian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion mea­sure their video stream­ing efforts. (You can read a case study here.) Not only were we able to help the CBC shine on one of sporting’s biggest stages, we also learned quite a bit about the Adobe Ana­lyt­ics new video heart­beat capa­bil­ity. Here are a few lessons we learned dur­ing the 2014 World Cup:

Les­son One: Real-Time Gran­u­lar Data Is Key

Hav­ing a real-time view of your data is essen­tial for max­i­miz­ing engage­ment, espe­cially dur­ing an event like the World Cup. For the CBC, Adobe Ana­lyt­ics’ new video heart­beat mea­sure­ment helped pro­vide a new layer in their real-time report­ing, and they were able to take full advan­tage of it dur­ing the tournament.

Here’s a quick break­down of how the heart­beat capa­bil­ity works: After mak­ing an ini­tial server call, every 10 sec­onds a heart­beat (or ping) is sent back to Adobe to deliver the most gran­u­lar stream­ing video data in real time. Scott Smith, our video prod­uct man­ager, wrote about the new func­tion­al­ity in more detail when it was released last year. This helped var­i­ous CBC teams under­stand the size of their audi­ence, the devices view­ers were using, con­nec­tion rates, num­ber of ad impres­sions, how much a video was watched, and much more.

Before uti­liz­ing Adobe Ana­lyt­ics heart­beats, the CBC gath­ered video stats every two min­utes. Although this method of report­ing pro­vided accu­rate met­rics, there was one dis­tinct dis­ad­van­tage: a lot can be missed in that two-minute win­dow of time.

Les­son Two: Using Real-Time To Max­i­mize Viewer Engagement

The CBC had quite the audi­ence dur­ing the World Cup, and they were able to lever­age real-time ana­lyt­ics to max­i­mize engage­ment. Their World Cup app was down­loaded 1.1 mil­lion times. And dur­ing the tour­na­ment, the CBC’s audi­ence viewed an astound­ing 13 mil­lion hours of video online.

To match the scale of the World Cup, each CBC team focused on gath­er­ing spe­cific data. Here are a few exam­ples of the data they were col­lect­ing in real-time:

  • For the IT Team: Traf­fic sources, device type, con­nec­tion speed, and launch stats
  • For the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Team: Trend­ing sto­ries and most pop­u­lar videos
  • For the Ad Sales Team: Engage­ment peaks, aver­age view­ers per minute, time spent on page, and mobile app log-ins

All these data points and more were then used to improve the view­ing expe­ri­ence, engage the audi­ence longer, and spot trends more quickly. This trans­lated to a jump in online World Cup cov­er­age: the CBC counted 45 per­cent more page views and 51 per­cent more video views com­pared to the 2010 tournament.

Les­son Three: Gran­u­lar Data Leads to More Effi­cient Ad Strat­egy Optimization

Dur­ing the tour­na­ment, the CBC sold adver­tis­ing space on their mobile app and on their World Cup web­site as well as in-stream. Aided by real-time data, the CBC’s ad sales team was able to bet­ter esti­mate engage­ment and tai­lor ad strat­egy to match engage­ment dur­ing each day of the tournament.

For instance, their sales man­agers could more accu­rately esti­mate peaks in view­er­ship such as when audi­ence engage­ment was at an all-time high dur­ing games, which bet­ter informed their ad place­ment strat­egy. Plus, the real-time data about their website—for exam­ple, aver­age time on page—enabled the CBC to max­i­mize impres­sions as well.

For broad­cast­ers, stream­ing video is becom­ing an increas­ingly impor­tant tool for engag­ing with a 21st-century audi­ence. We’ve already seen it dur­ing March Mad­ness, the Olympics, and the NFL Super Bowl, and the impor­tance of stream­ing video will con­tinue to grow. The key for max­i­miz­ing engage­ment in every case is video ana­lyt­ics that pro­vide action­able insights in real time.