How a global pandemic has opened pandora’s box for increased privacy and security over streaming networks

It is a fact. COVID-19 has forever changed our way of life, creating a new normal of how we socialize and interact with the general public. Everyday activities such as grocery shopping, attending school, getting a haircut, nails done, or even going to the doctor, now requires getting our temperature checked, wearing a mask or gloves, and staying 6-feet away from strangers.

But it has also created a paradigm shift in the way we think about, and use, video streaming technology. According to Reuters1, with millions across the world working from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the use of Zoom and other digital communications has soared to unexpected heights. In fact, Zoom’s daily users ballooned to more than 200 million in March from a previous maximum total of 10 million, due to new signups from corporations, school districts, families, even political candidates, needing to communicate with streaming video.

Unfortunately for Zoom, they were not prepared to handle this level of accelerated adoption, especially with its educational customers; more than 90,000 schools across 20 countries began using its video conferencing services to conduct classes remotely since March 2020. Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, admitted that the company’s technical infrastructure was not able to handle the enormous influx of users on its platform and had many security breaches and issues around privacy.

In March, Yuan sent a letter to its users, apologizing and recognizing that the company had fallen short, admitting issues of “Zoombombing”, where unidentified individuals successfully invaded school sessions; he also made a commitment that over the next 90 days, they would be “dedicating the resources needed to better identify, address, and fix issues proactively.” Despite Boston’s FBI issuing a warning about Zoom on March 30th, and despite Elon Musk’s banning its SpaceX employees from using the Zoom app, research firm Apptopia estimated that Zoom’s daily U.S. mobile user volumes rose to a record 4.84 million that same day1.

To put that usage data in perspective, Microsoft’s business-focused Teams app was only used by 1.56 million mobile users, and Slack had less than 500,000 mobile users on March 30th.

Analysts predict Zoom’s growth to continue unabated as more people … and even governments… are being exposed to its use and benefits. In May, the Florida Supreme Court used Zoom for arguments, and British lawmakers even broke from 700 years of tradition in the Houses of Parliament by using Zoom2.

So, what does that say about the adoption and usage of streaming media technology, despite data security concerns? Online and mobile video communications, as well as streaming sports and entertainment on our personal devices, is here to stay…and is going to grow exponentially fast because of COVID-193.

Which leads me to my next point: The need for innovative technologies to ensure privacy and data security has never been greater. Whoever is the company, or companies, to develop and implement that assurance to millions (perhaps billions) of people, will be known forever as the “Post COVID-19 Streaming Security Change Agent.” Furthermore, venture capitalists, hedge funds and institutional investors should be looking to park their dollars into new, and existing streaming companies, poised and positioned to dominate this market.

One such company will no doubt be Akamai technologies out of Boston. For those of you who do not know the origins of Akamai, let me give you the “Cliff Notes” version. In early 1995, Tim Berners-Lee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also known as “The father of the web”,  foresaw the congestion of Internet users, and he challenged colleagues at MIT to invent a fundamentally new and better way to deliver Internet content. Along with his co-research partners, Dr Tom Leighton, Danny Lewan, and Preetish Nijhawan, they entered and won the esteemed annual MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition in 1995, establishing that Internet content delivery had serious market potential. On August 20, 1998, Dr. Leighton and Mr. Lewin incorporated Akamai, and obtained an exclusive license to certain intellectual property from MIT4.

Under the new leadership of Paul Sagan, former President of Time Inc. New Media and founder of Road Runner cable modem service, Akamai gained significant market exposure when it enabled the delivery of March Madness for ESPN and a Star Wars trailer for Entertainment Tonight, effectively establishing the partnership between entertainment giants and Telecos that would serve as model for years to come.

Today, Akamai’s content delivery network is one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms, responsible for serving between 15% and 30% of all web traffic.[1]; and, with a network of over approximately 275,000 servers deployed in more than 136 countries, their Peer-to-Peer networking, Operations Command Centers, and Global Network of Servers enable them to gather real-time information about traffic, congestion, and trouble spots, so that their proprietary software and algorithms can process requests and serve content at optimized quality and speed.

Among their biggest hurdles today, is how to help solve the privacy and security of user data, now that adoption of streaming communication and entertainment will never go back to pre-COVID-19 usage.

Akamai, and so many other technology companies, experienced a hiccup of sorts in March 20205, when the issue of data security and privacy in streaming media became a public.  Although over the past 6 months they have experienced volatility in their growth, word-on-the-street is they are back in the “skunkworks” and to create scalable solutions to optimize security during content and video usage.


Truth be told, they should be leading this charge; in July of 2019, they issued a warning for Security Risks with Streaming Video Services in their report, [State of the internet] / Security Credential Stuffing:Volume 5, Special Media Edition6.

In their report, Akamai stated that it recorded nearly 30 billion credential stuffing attacks in 2018, with each attack representing an attempt by a person or computer to log in to an account with a stolen or generated username and password. Most of these attacks were performed by botnets (groups of computers tasked with various commands) or all-in-one applications. They can be instructed to find accounts that are vulnerable to being accessed by someone other than the account owner; these are called account takeover (ATO) attacks, and they are key tools for account takeovers and data harvesting.

That is not good news for most of us who consume large quantities of streaming content from social media, gaming, entertainment sites such as Netflix, Hulu, TikTok, Quibi, and of course, video communication services like Zoom.

The people behind these attacks realize the value of an account, whether it is to a streaming site, a game, or someone’s social media account, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to steal that information. According to Akamai’s report, large breaches are on the rise and will inevitably cause millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages to global organizations in lawsuits from angry consumers.

On May 14, Akamai Technologies will be at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference, and no doubt, data privacy and security will be a major topic. As this is a closed webcast, intended ONLY for clients of J.P. Morgan’s Corporate and Investment Bank, and given what we know happened with Zoom, the question remains: What video streaming technology will Akamai be using as their video conference tool to ensure the safety and information of Chase Investors? Something to find out for sure.


Keeping customer data safe will become the #1 priority during, and after COVID-19, as the industry continues to grow, and more people sign up for video conferencing and streaming entertainment services.  Security risks and breaches will rise until someone has a fail-safe way to protect against credential stuffing and hacking. While technical companies like Akamai will be at the forefront of helping us to find a tested and trusted solution, media giants and global brands that fail to successfully prioritize this as their #1 initiative, will not only take a major hit to their reputation, they may not even be around in 2021.

References and Sources:

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Brand equity refers to the importance of a brand in the customer’s eyes, while brand value is the financial significance the brand carries. Both brand equity and brand value are educated estimates of how much a brand is worth.

What’s the Difference Between Brand Equity & Brand Value?

Brand equity and brand value are similar, but not the same. Oftentimes, there is confusion around how each differs so let’s look at exactly what each means:

Brand Equity

Brand equity is a set of assets or liabilities in the form of brand visibility, brand associations and customer loyalty that add or subtract from value of a current or potential product or service driven by the brand. It is a key construct in the management of not only marketing, but also business strategy.

In the late 1980s, brand equity helped create and support the explosive idea that brands are assets that drive business performance over time. That idea altered perceptions of what marketing does, who does it, and what role it plays in business strategy.

Brand equity also altered the perception of brand value by demonstrating that a brand is not only a tactical aid to generate short-term sales, but also a strategic support to a business strategy that will add long-term value to the organization.

Brand Value

Brand value, on the other hand, is the financial worth of the brand. To determine brand value, businesses need to estimate how much the brand is worth in the market – in other words, how much would someone purchasing the brand pay?

It is important to note that a positive brand value does not automatically equal positive brand equity.

How Should Brand Equity & Brand Value Be Measured?

While measuring brand value is fairly straightforward, the process for brand equity is not quite so simple. Brand equity is a set of assets or liabilities in the form of brand visibility, brand associations and customer loyalty that add or subtract from value of a current or potential product or service driven by the brand. Here we’ll dive into each.

Brand Visibility

This means that the brand has awareness and credibility with respect to a particular customer need—it is relevant. If a customer is searching for a buying option and the brand does not come to mind, or if there is some reason that the brand is perceived to be unable to deliver adequately, the brand will not be relevant and not be considered.

Brand Associations

Brand associations involve anything that created a positive or negative relationship with or feelings toward the brand. It can be based on functional benefits but also a brand personality, organizational values, self-expressive benefits, emotional benefits or social benefits.

Customer Loyalty

Customer’s loyalty provides a flow of business for current and potential products from customers that believe in the value of the brand’s offerings and will not spend time evaluating options with lower prices. The inclusion of loyalty in the conceptualization of brand equity allows marketers to justify giving loyalty priority in the brand building budget.

Driving Brand Value in the Short Term

The value of a brand represents its impact on the short-run and long-run flow of profits that it can generate. With respect to short-term profitability, the problem is that programs that are very good at driving short-run products – like price promotions – can damage brands.

Looking at the ways a brand can help drive short-term financial performance can help mitigate this tendency:

  • Brand Loyalty

    • Reduced Marketing Costs
    • Trade Leverage
    • Attracting New Customers via Awareness & Reassurance
    • Time to Respond to Competitive Threats
  • Brand Visibility

    • Anchor to Which Other Associations Can Be Attached
    • Familiarity Which Leads to Liking
    • Visibility That Helps Gain Consideration
    • Signal of Substance/Commitment
  • Brand Associations

    • Helps Communicate Information
    • Differentiate/Position
    • Reason-to-Buy
    • Create Positive Attitude/Feelings
    • Basis for Extensions

Improving Brand Value in the Long-Run

One of the ongoing challenges of brand equity proponents is to demonstrate that there is long-term value in creating brand equity. The basic problems are that brand is only one driver of profits, completive actions intervene, and strategic decisions cannot wait for years.

There are, however, some perspectives that can be employed to understand and measure the long-term value of brand equity:

Brand Value Approach #1: Estimate the Brand’s Role in Business

One approach is to estimate the brand’s role in a business. The value of a business in a product-market such as the Ford Fiesta in the UK market is estimated based on discounting future earnings. The tangible and intangible assets are identified and the relative role of the brand is subjectively estimated by a group of knowledgeable people, taking into account the business model and any information about the brand in terms of its relative visibility, associations and customer loyalty.

The value of the brand is then aggregated over products and markets countries to determine a value for brand.  It can range from 10 percent for B2B brands to over 60 percent for brands like Jack Daniel’s or Coca-Cola.

Brand Value Approach #2: Observe Investments in Brand Equity

A second approach is to observe that, on average, investments in brand equity increase stock return, the ultimate measure of a long-term return on assets. Evidence comes from a series of studies I conducted with Professor Robert Jacobson of the University of Washington, using time series data which included information on accounting-based return-on-investment (ROI) and models that sorted out the direction of causation.

The consistent finding was that the impact of increasing brand equity on stock return was nearly as great as that of an ROI change, about 70 percent as much. In contrast, advertising, also tested, had no impact on stock return except that which was captured by brand equity.

Brand Value Approach #3: Reflect on Other Valuable Brands

A third approach is to look at case studies of brands that have created enormous value. Consider, for example, the power of the Apple personality and innovation reputation, BMW’s self-expressive benefits connected to the “ultimate driving machine,” and the ability of Whole Foods Market brand to define an entire subcategory.

Or, the fact that from 1989 to 1997 two cars were made in the same plant using the same design and materials and marketing under two brand names, Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet (GEO) Prism. The Corolla brand was priced 10% higher, had less depreciation over time, and had sales many times more that the Prizm. And consumers and experts both gave it higher ratings. The same car! Only the brand was different.

Brand Value Approach #4: Consider the Conceptual Model

It’s important to consider to consider the conceptual model surrounding a business strategy. What is the business strategy? What is the strategic role of the brand in supporting that strategy? How critical is it? Is price competition the alternative to creating and leveraging brand equity? What impact will that have on profit streams going forward? Management guru Tom Peters said it well:

“In an increasingly crowded marketplace, fools will compete on price. Winners will find a way to create lasting value in the customer’s mind.”

Final Thoughts

Brand equity continues to be a driver of much of marketing, indeed business strategy. For it to work, it needs to be understood conceptually and operationally. And it is important that it be tied to brand value in credible ways.

Discover how Prophet helps companies establish a brand strategy that drives business growth.

From Investopedia – By

Brand personality is a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name. A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate; an effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys. This personality is a qualitative value-add that a brand gains in addition to its functional benefits.

Understanding Brand Personality

Brand personality is a framework that helps a company or organization shape the way people feel about its product, service, or mission. A company’s brand personality elicits an emotional response in a specific consumer segment, with the intention of inciting positive actions that benefit the firm.

Customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own. There are five main types of brand personalities with common traits:

  1. Excitement: carefree, spirited, and youthful
  2. Sincerity: kindness, thoughtfulness, and an orientation toward family values
  3. Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoorsy, and athletic
  4. Competence: successful, accomplished and influential, highlighted by leadership
  5. Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, and sometimes even pretentious

Dove, for example, chooses sincerity as its brand personality, to attract feminine consumers. Luxury brands, such as Michael Kors and Chanel, aims for sophistication. Their brand personality focuses on an upper-class, glamorous, and trendy lifestyle, which attracts a high-spending consumer base. REI, the outdoor recreation retail store, has a rugged brand personality; they focus on inspiring their audience—who are typically outdoorsy, adventurous people—to be strong and resilient.

Brand Personality Versus Imagery

A company’s brand personality should not be confused with its imagery. A company’s imagery is a series of creative assets that communicate the tangible benefits of its brand. Conversely, a firm’s brand personality directly creates an emotional association in the mind of an ideal consumer group.

It is important for a company to accurately define its brand personality so it resonates with the correct consumer. This is because brand personality results in increased brand equity and defines the brand’s attitude in the marketplace. It is also the key factor of any successful marketing campaign. In order to choose a brand’s personality, companies consider the five personality types and select the one the company wishes to convey.

If, for example, a new outdoor apparel company wants to resonate with consumers, the natural inclination is to create a brand personality that is rugged. However, it is possible that the company’s competitor may have already positioned itself as the rugged outdoor apparel brand. Instead, the new apparel company can position itself uniquely in the mind of the customer by adopting a brand personality of sophistication. This differentiates the brand as an upscale, high-end option to outdoor apparel, which attracts a specific type of consumer.