Blog from November, 2011

COVE 2.0 post-launch report

It has been almost 3 weeks now since COVE 2.0 has launched and we are excited to be moving forward and iterating on the new tool.

We have appreciated your patience and collaboration as we've worked to address the inevitable issues that occur with the launch of such a complex tool.

Now that things are settling down a bit we wanted to give you a quick update about where things are at and what will be happening in the coming weeks and months.

Keep those tickets coming

First off we want to encourage you to keep up the great work reporting issues through JIRA. Please continue to spot-check your videos in the PBS Video portal and on your producer website and report any problems you notice. The more reports we get of an issue the more data we have to help diagnose the problem and identify a solution. So keep up the great work! We couldn't do it without you.

Google Analytics outage

Unfortunately when COVE 2.0 was rolled out on November 10th two parts of the Google Analytics system used to track COVE metrics were not working properly.

The first part was the Video Event Tracking. This is the special event tracking used to track video views and other events in the COVE video players (duration events, sharing events, Viral Player instances). This issue was fixed on November 16th. So producers will not see any video event-tracking data in their Google Analytics account for November 10th through November 16th. 

The second part of our Google Analytics implementation that was not working properly was the reporting of portal video-page metrics in to Producer Google Analytics accounts. This is the method where pageviews for videos in the PBS Video portal get reported in to Producer accounts so they can get credit for that traffic. This issue was fixed on November 28th. This means you will likely notice a slight dip in your total pageviews from November 10th to November 28th. 

Publishing Tips

In the last few weeks we have gathered a few tips you can use to help ensure that publishing from the Legacy COVE Admin Tool to the new COVE 2.0 portal goes smoothly.

  1. We have had a few reports of producers being unable to ingest their videos in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool. They report that the "Publish" button does not appear for them after they click the "Submit" button. In these rare instances we have noticed that the problem appears to occur while the video file is being ingested after you click the "Submit" button. Because the video file never gets ingested into COVE then there is nothing to publish and that is why the "Publish" button does not appear. If the "Publish" button does not appear after 15 minutes or so we recommend you go back in to the metadata form and re-submit the video file URL. This will kick off the ingestion process again and the video file should get into COVE no problem the 2nd time which will in turn cause the Publish button to appear.
  1. COVE 2.0 does not accept incorrectly formatted NOLA codes. We had an issue with several videos not working and it turned out that it was because COVE 2.0 is not as forgiving about imprecise data as the old system was. In this case the NOLA Root and NOLA Episode fields had been filled out incorrectly and that was preventing the videos from working. The NOLA Root field should be a 4 letter code (e.g. NOVA, MLNH, FRON, AMEX, AMDO). The NOLA) that identifies your program. The NOLA Episode field should be the 6 digit numerical code (e.g. 000001, 003914, 001131) that identifies your particular episode. If you do not format the text in these fields correctly (4 letters for NOLA Root, 6 numbers for NOLA episode) it will prevent your video from working. At the very least you should always have the NOLA Root field filled out.

New SEO-friendly URL's

COVE 2.0 launched with an exciting new feature in the PBS Video portal. Now all program pages have SEO-friendly URL's. So instead of the NOVA program page appearing as, it now appears as This new vanity-URL signals to search engines (Google, Bing, ect.) and search users what the page is about. Its a small improvement but one we think will have a positive effect on SEO.

The Admin Tool is on its way

We are currently working on putting the finishing touches on the New COVE Admin Tool. A few months ago we put a Beta version of this tool in front of some producers and conducted user-testing. That user-testing showed us where there were weaknesses in the workflow and interface of the new tool. As a result we recommended a series of small label and button changes to improve the usability. These changes are being implemented now and we believe that they will help make the New COVE Admin Tool much more intuitive. As soon as this work is complete we will begin contacting producers to schedule their on-boarding. We are very close to being ready for that next step.

Those are the big points we'd like you to keep in mind right now.

We are excited about the progress that has happened in recent weeks and even though there have been some inevitable growing pains we're confident that we're moving in the right direction. The near future of COVE is very bright indeed.

We are committed to making sure you get the information you need about this product launch.

As always please don't hesitate to contact your Program Manager or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns.

Also please feel free to leave any questions in the Comments section below and we'll respond to them there for everybody's benefit.

In anticipation of the 2011 Holiday Season, PBS Interactive is placing a moratorium on major site launches and production changes due to limited staff resources that will be available during the holiday's.

Please review the dates listed below and make plans accordingly: 

  • Nov. 23, 2011 – Nov. 25, 2011 
  • Dec. 8, 2011-  Dec. 9, 2011  (PBS Product Summit)
  • Dec. 19, 2011 – Jan. 2, 2012

The moratorium applies to major deployments such as new site launches, manual site pushes/updates, and new server requests.  It does not apply to ongoing technical support. This will continue as normal except on days when PBS offices are closed. 

PBS Offices will be closed November 23rd (beginning at 1pm) through November 25th,  as well as December 23 – 26th and January 2nd.

If you have questions about the moratorium or if it poses a challenge to your production plans, please reach out to your program manager.

Thank you. We hope you all have a great holiday!


UPDATE at 3:30pm on 11/16/11. Publishing in COVE was restored this morning at around 10am. Producers should be able to publish videos now without issue. Videos that were published during this outage should appear. If you are unable to publish or if a video you previously published has not shown up please file a Video JIRA ticket so that we can provide direct individual assistance.


UPDATE at 5:30pm on 11/15/11. Video publishing in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool will remain down tonight. Our Developers tell us that they have isolated the issue and are in the process of completing the necessary changes. They will QA the fix tonight and deploy to production first thing tomorrow morning. At that time they believe all videos that might have been published today will go live.

If you have ingested a video today but not published it, it is best to just wait to publish until we're able to confirm the fix tomorrow morning.

We apologize for the continued inconvenience.

Video publishing is currently down in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool.

Yesterday afternoon some videos (not all) were not appearing after they had been published. 

In order to work on this problem the PBSi Products team needed to shut down publishing in the Legacy COVE Admin Tool at 5am this morning.

Producers can still ingest (submit) new content into the system. You just won't be able to publish it.

Our team anticipates that the ability to publish videos will resume later this afternoon. At that time, you will be able to publish any videos you've ingested. Any videos that were experiencing problems last night should appear as well.

We apologize for the inconvience.

Please contact your Program Manager if you have any questions or concerns.

COVE 2.0 is live

COVE 2.0 went live at 7am this morning.

We are excited to announce that everything went well with the launch and the new PBS Video Portal and COVE Admin Tool are up and running.

As with any major product launch there are going to be some issues that need to be ironed out. We have been closely documenting those issues and the team began work addressing them immediately following the launch today. 

Please do not attempt to fix these issues on your own. You run the risk of making the situation worse if you do.

We anticipate that most of the discrepancies you see in the new portal will be resolved within the next week. If however you notice an issue that persists beyond that timeframe please let us know.

We are immensely proud to bring you this exciting new product and are grateful for your patience, feedback and enthusiasm. 

Welcome to a new world of COVE.

The launch of COVE 2.0 has been scheduled for 7am tomorrow morning (11/10/11) EST.

The launch will consist of 2 things:

  1. The new PBS Video portal going live. The new portal will replace the old one at You will only notice a few changes in the new portal.
  2. The New COVE Admin Tool going live.

Producers do not have to change anything in their daily COVE workflow after this launch. You will be able to continue to publish videos and manage your stacks from the COVE Admin Tool you are currently using (now being called the "Legacy Admin Tool"). The only difference you'll experience is an increase in publishing time and an inability to make changes to your Program Page.

As with any large product release there are going to be some kinks to work out. When the new portal goes live tomorrow, you may notice a few small data issues (e.g. some videos appearing in the wrong order). Please do not attempt to fix these problems on your own. We are aware of the situation and will be working diligently to fix all issues shortly after launch. We expect that most of these problems will be resolved within the next week. If you notice that a problem is persisting beyond that time frame please file a Video JIRA ticket and let us know. 

If you notice an urgent issue that requires immediate attention tomorrow, please contact your program manager or file a Video JIRA ticket.

After launch we will make a few additional tweaks to the New COVE Admin Tool and then begin to migrate producers into the new system. Our current estimate is that this migration will begin in earnest the first week of December. We will be contacting you shortly to schedule your migration and training on the new admin.

Please don't hesitate to contact your program manager or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns regarding this launch.

We are excited to finally bring you these new products and we look forward to working with you to realizing all the benefits they offer.

The new PBS Video portal

As we mentioned earlier this week the launch of COVE 2.0 is impending.
The latest update we have is that the launch date has been pushed back to this Thursday 11/10/11.
This is now the earliest COVE 2.0 could be pushed to production.

Launch will consist of 2 new products going live.

  1. A new PBS Video portal. The new portal will replace the old one at .
  2. The new COVE Admin Tool.

In a subsequent post we will discuss the exciting improvements you will see in the new COVE Admin Tool.

For now though lets focus on the differences you be seeing in the new PBS Video portal at


The new portal will be powered by the COVE API. This means page load-time will be significantly faster; especially for pages that are not visited frequently.

More importantly though powering the portal with the COVE API allowed us to build the new COVE Admin Tool. This was the large portion of the work that was done on the portal and the primary motivation for the update. We had to get the portal running on the new COVE API so it could communicate with the New COVE Admin Tool.

The rest of the changes that occurred were small improvements or features we removed because they weren't seeing a lot of use. This was not a large overhaul of the user interface.

Here are the differences you will see at launch;

No Keywords Drop-down

One of the biggest things you'll notice when you look at the Program Pages in the new portal is that there is no longer a "keywords" drop-down. (circled in red below)
This is because this feature has been removed.

The decision to remove this feature was based upon research which indicated that users were not using it. Our research showed that only about 2% of total clicks on the Program Pages occurred on the Keywords drop-down menu. So, because it was not heavily utilized and building the feature in to the new portal would extend the roadmap for launch we made the decision to leave it out. That is not to say that we don't see value in having a method for users to filter content on the Program Page. We do. We just think it could be done better and this is the first step in improving that capability on the Program Pages.

Producers will be able to continue to assign their videos to these keyword (also called Program Topics or Program Categories) in the new COVE Admin Tool and they should indeed continue to do so.  When we do come up with a new method for surfacing this filtering mechanism on the Program Pages that solution will be based on the keyword data you assigned.

No Collections

The other big difference you'll notice at launch will be the removal of collections. Again, this was a feature that saw little traffic so in order to speed up the delivery of the new portal we left it out. Our team is also evaluating how to replace this functionality and how we can improve on the feature.

More consistent page layout

We have also brought the Topics pages and Related Video layout in line with the layout on the Program Pages. In the current portal these sections are displayed in the old page layout. 

In the new portal they will be organized the same way they are on the Program Pages.

This should provide a more consistent interface for our users making it easier for them to navigate the content.

That is it.
We tried to not change to much on the front-end.
Really this update was about getting the portal running on the COVE API so that we could build the new, super-fast COVE Admin Tool.

Again, when this new portal goes live you will not have to change your workflow. The Legacy COVE Admin Tool will continue to work and you will to be able to publish and manage your videos and update your program stacks as you do right now. The only difference will be that you won't be able to update your Program Pages. The new COVE Admin Tool will exist in parallel with the legacy Admin Tool and PBS will work to quickly on-board producers from the old system into the new one.

Please continue to check this blog for all the latest updates on the COVE 2.0 launch. (Our email notification is currently down)

COVE 2.0 Launch update

The potential launch date for COVE 2.0 has now been pushed back to Wednesday, November 9th, 2011. This is now the earliest the new PBS Video portal and COVE Admin Tool could  go live.

We have also been notified that at launch there will be an increase in publishing time for producers who continue to publish through the Legacy COVE Admin. This is because the Legacy system communicates with the new API-powered portal in a new manner that requires caching for optimum performance.

When COVE 2.0 launches producers may experience publishing times of up to 80 minutes. That is the maximum amount of time it could take from the point at which you click the "Publish" button to the time when your video is available in the portal and the Partner Player. That 80-minute maximum will only occur if you publish immediately after the cache has cleared. Most producers will publish sometime in between cache refreshes and will thus experience much shorter publishing times.

The caches have been set so that only the most reliable version of the products (portal and Admin Tool) are pushed to production. Immediately following launch though our developers will begin to work to reduce those cache times. This means in the weeks following the launch you will likely experience a reduction in that maximum window of 80 minutes.

Our goal is to get the publishing time as low as possible but that will depend on how the system performs. Because some caching will always be required it is unlikely that the Legacy COVE Admin Tool will return to its current 5-10 minute publishing time.

Publishing in the new COVE Admin Tool will be extremely fast. That system will have the 5-minute publishing we currently enjoy today as well as significantly shorter times for updating stacks and program page. Most importantly you will be able to access your videos' metadata in mere seconds in the new COVE Admin Tool instead of the 15+ minutes some producers currently struggle with.

We know that this is going to be a resource burden to our producers which is why we will be moving as quickly as possible after launch to migrate you into the new COVE Admin Tool. We appreciate your patience and collaboration as we work to get everybody on-boarded and realizing the efficiencies of the new system.

Please keep your eye on this blog for all the latest updates on the COVE 2.0 launch and as always don't hesitate to contact your program manager if you have any questions or concerns.

COVE 2.0 launch coming soon

We wanted to just give a quick update to let you know that the new version of COVE (also known as "COVE 2.0") is likely to launch some time in the coming weeks.

This launch has been a long time coming and we're excited to be so close.

Right now the earliest COVE 2.0 could go live is next Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

The launch will have 2 parts:

  1. A new PBS Video portal going live. The new portal will replace the old one at . The new portal will largely look exactly the same (with some small differences we'll cover in a future blog post). It will just be powered by the new COVE API.
  2. The new COVE Admin Tool going live.

What Producers need to do

Nothing. When COVE 2.0 launches you can continue to publish and manage your videos like you do now. The new API-powered portal is linked to the current COVE Admin Tool (what we'll begin calling the "Legacy Admin Tool") so you'll have no change to your current workflow. You can publish new videos, make changes to existing videos and update your stack through the Legacy Admin Tool. All your work will show up properly in the new PBS Video portal. As we mentioned earlier the only difference will be that you won't be able to update your program page in through the Legacy Admin Tool.

At launch the Legacy Admin Tool and the New COVE Admin Tool will exist in parallel. PBS will then migrate producers from the legacy system to the new one. Migration will occur in the months follow launch and PBS will be contacting you to schedule a time to move your program into the new system and get your staff trained on how to use it. Please contact your Program Manager if you have not submitted the names of staff members who will require training on the new tool.

COVE 2.0 is a significant improvement over its predecessor; especially the New Admin Tool. You will see significant improvements in performance as well as many efficiencies in work-flow. We have worked hard to ensure that all the old issues have been solved and you have an intuitive, useful tool that allows you to publish your content quickly and precisely. We think you're going to be pretty impressed when you see it.

In the coming days we will be posting further details about each of the new tools (the New COVE Admin Tool and the new PBS Video portal).

Until then please don't hesitate to reach out to your program manager or Dan Haggerty ( if you have any questions or concerns.


Are you seeing a big spike in “(not provided)” data in your web analytics’ referring keyword report? Here’s what’s going on.

Google announced, in mid-October, that it would stop passing referrer information for search engine users who are logged into Google (Google products include YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs and many others). Specifically, that means that your analytics software won’t show what keyword a logged-in visitor used to reach your site (unless it’s pay-per-click/AdWords traffic). You still see how much traffic came from organic search, and which pages visitors landed on, but not the specific keyword they used.

If you go into your analytics software and look at your Referring Keyword report, you will see a line that says “(not provided)” – those are all the different searches (combined) where Google stripped out referrer data.

This decision by Google won’t impact ALL your keyword data, only searches by logged in users; but the extent to which it’ll impact your data looks to be in flux.

That “feature” began rolling out on October 18. It appears that Google has begun rolling out this change more aggressively in the last few days. Other site owners are reporting a big spike in the percentage of keyword traffic that is “not provided” – we’ve seen an increase as well, although the percentage (of “not provided” vs. total keyword data) is still very small for the domain as a whole.

Different types of sites are going to see varying degrees of impact. Sites whose visitors are heavy users of Google products (e.g., tech blogs) will see a bigger impact. Sites whose audiences don’t tend to have Google accounts will see a smaller impact.

To see how it’s impacting your keyword data
Avinash Kaushik (of Google Analytics) has a quick tip for checking to see how much this change is affecting your data (basically: for the affected time period, take the number of “not reported” and divide it by the total number of organic search referred traffic to get the percentage). In his postscript, Avinash even provides a one-click method for creating a custom report in your dashboard to track this piece of data.

What does it mean for you and what can you do?
There’s not really anything you can do to get the missing granular data back. This is NOT a limitation of the Google Analytics product; it impacts all analytics programs since Google is preventing this data from being passed by the browser.

What does it mean? Well, depending on how big that percentage of impacted traffic is, it probably won’t change anything for you.

I want to reiterate: you still know how many visits came from organic search and what your landing pages are for organic search traffic, so unless you’re doing keyword-level conversion analysis, you likely still have enough data to keep using analytics the same way as before.

The change may mean data on how search engine users are finding your website might be a bit fuzzier. It does NOT mean that the makeup of your organic search traffic has changed or will change; it does not mean you’re getting fewer search visitors or that your tactics for getting/maintaining search engine visibility should change. With the data that’s still being reported by logged-out users, you should still have a pretty good sense of what keywords are driving traffic to your site across the board.

You can still use your Google Webmaster Tools account to get impression and click-through data (although that data tends not to be very exact) if you just want a fuller picture of what’s happening with your site in the SERPs.

More background and further reading
There is, naturally, a lot of controversy about what Google is doing. Here’s Danny Sullivan’s opinion about why Google’s move to do this is a bad one:

If you’re interested in the bigger picture and more analysis of the situation, there are a lot of links to related articles at the bottom of Danny’s piece.

I’ll keep you updated if anything changes with regard to Google’s implementation. In the mean time, feel free to let me know if you have any questions (or if you are noticing that your site's "not reported" percentage is becoming significant).