Deep Dive Data & Data Science

UKTV: Using Adobe Heartbeat to understand video viewing behaviour

The Background

UKTV, the digital broadcaster, wanted to get more out of its analytics on its digital platform.  There were key metrics for the business which they could not report for their digital platform.  This was partly due to their implementation – not all the events had been tagged in the right way – but also due to the analytics solution they had.  Standard metrics for digital video tracking are based around the proportion of video that has been watched.  That’s generally fine for video clips and 30-second ads, but not if you are a broadcaster with hour-long TV shows, and their associated ad slots, to measure.

As a result, UKTV required a more comprehensive solution.  They had Google Analytics, but Adobe Analytics, and in particular the Heartbeat methodology it employs for tracking video, offered the capability to provide the level of insight they needed, delivering a unified platform across the range of UKTV platforms on the web, TV apps and mobile apps.

However, this still represented a significant investment for UKTV.  Station10 worked alongside the UKTV stakeholders to establish the business case for the tool and the required services to ensure it was set up correctly.

What Station10 did

The Heartbeat tracking method sends an analytics call every 10 seconds, rather than at predefined milestones in the video.  This provides a more granular view of the status of the video than other analytics methods, allowing more detailed understanding of usage and viewing behaviour.  For a broadcaster, this is crucial; it also has the advantage of being able to capture additional data types like buffering and errors, which might not be recorded in other ways.

However, such a method also presents significant technical challenges for the implementation; it is sending many more calls during the video, and clearly cannot impact and slow down the viewing experience. In particular, this was a challenge on the tv apps which not only are often running on low-power set-top boxes but also include a variety of apps and video players.  This required a best practice implementation approach that ensured performance and consistency across all platforms.  Based on Station10’s many years of analytics experience, we established the common requirements across the different viewing platforms and then designed the data layer, video event layer and tag management approach for the implementation phase.

Station10 then implemented and configured the analytics set-up.  In doing so, we worked very closely alongside UKTV’s development team; this was vital, as it enabled both teams to communicate and overcome the specific technical challenges that emerged from time to time – apps can be sensitive and getting the analytics running required some fine tweaking of the code.


UKTV’s Adobe Analytics Heartbeat analytics went live seamlessly in May 2017.  This was the very first Heartbeat implementation on the Adobe platform in the UK, meaning UKTV is leading the way in digital video analytics in the highly competitive media marketplace in the UK.  Moreover, it immediately started providing insights based on its more granular data capture method, particularly around how viewers consume the content.  For instance, this has already enabled UKTV to deliver much more detail about ad consumption to their advertisers than was previously possible, as well as better understanding the impact of adverts on viewing behaviour.

UKTV’s Head of Analytics, Rohini Sarkar, said “As UKTV ramps up its digital footprint it was essential we are able to track all aspects of the consumer experience. Station10 were invaluable in ensuring our needs were met and with our enhanced tracking, we are confident our consumers are already seeing the benefit. I would highly recommend Station10, they understood our culture and addressed all our requirements seamlessly”.

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