Akamai Monitoring Tool Becomes Marketing Magnet

Akamai's internet monitoring tool shows both the big picture-the ebb and flow of net traffic in general-as well as a close-up on media content usage.In the world of streaming media, Akamai is one of the oldest and largest players. The company, which bought rivals such as INTERVU in the late 1990s, has seen continued growth that accounts for-by the company's estimates-almost 15 per cent of the daily internet traffic. The company hosts many sizeable files for major internet companies, delivering heavily sought-after content at peak times with surprising resilience.

The company recently announced that it was opening up a suite of its internet monitoring tools to the general public. The tools, originally designed for Akamai's largest customers to monitor internet traffic patterns, have become a key marketing tool for Akamai in its quest for additional growth.

The suite consists of four major tools. Vizualizing Akamai and Network Performance Comparison are direct marketing tools, while the other two-Real Time Web Monitor, which monitors traffic, attacks and latency, and Net Usage Index-are of interest to the general public.

The Net Usage Index is also broken into three separate areas: Music, News, and Retail. The one that we'll focus on for this article is the global music indicator. This tool, which is updated every five minutes, shows the globe broken into six measurable areas: North America, South America, Europe, Asia (Pacific), Africa, and Australia.

Each of the six areas has a raw number of visits per minute as well as a percentage above and below normal music consumption. The measurement tools also include an aggregated traffic count and peak visits.

A look at the Global Music tool yesterday morning (Tuesday, June 12, 2007) showed that traffic was elevated across the globe by approximately 14% or 632,509 visitors per minute. At the same time, the Real-Time Web Monitor showed global traffic elevated about 17% above normal. The peak number of visitors per minute globally to music sites for the previous 24 hours occurred at 4 p.m. June 11, with a steady decline between 4 p.m. June 11 and 8 a.m. June 12.

That dip may, in some ways, trend along with the North American traffic, which accounts for almost 60% of Akamai's traffic measurement, validating previous research that shows new music consumption rises throughout the North American workday. North America, for instance, had a peak visitors-per-minute of 557,802, while South America was less than 10,000 and Australia was less than 15,000. Europe and Asia both maintained levels above 100,000, with Europe reaching almost 143,000 visitors per minute at its peak. Current statistics can be viewed here.So how does Akamai monitor the ebb and flow of digital music on a global scale? While it won't give full details on its monitoring algorithms, the company's website gives a few clues.

According to the site, Akamai leverages its relationship with "some of the most visited websites around the globe for digital music. Akamai has been in business for eight years, and serves content on behalf of the majority of the world's leading digital media sites. Because of the relationship Akamai has with these companies, we are strongly positioned to track and plot how digital music is being consumed on a global scale."

The list of companies provided on the website include Clear Channel, Napster, Rediff.com (an Indian site akin to Yahoo), and XM Satellite Radio. The clear dominance of North American-centric companies in Akamai's measurement means that North American traffic will dominate—although it is also possible that Akamai has other European, African, or Asian music sites that have requested anonymity for marketing purposes.

"Its easy to take for granted that the internet will always be on, and always working," said Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief scientist of Akamai. "Reality shows us that there are many factors, on any given day, degrading the internet's performance. Some are malicious, and some are the result of the incredible amount of content being requested at any one time. Akamai monitors the Internet in real-time, identifying where and when the internet is being taxed. The services we provide, leveraging this data, are geared toward helping our customers overcome the challenges of the Internet so they can effectively conduct business online."

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