I’ve been asked often why I am such a strong supporter of streamed video for your websites. I’ve done a pretty good job of feeling comfortable with my recommendations based on ease of implementation and security of the video. I’ve almost always had trouble with the part about “because your users expect good performance” bit. I know from my own preferences that video loading and beginning to play can cause me to abandon sites when it doesn’t happen fast enough – but it was always subjective.
I came across this article on CNN Tech about a new study from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Akamai Technologies which says you’ll lose 40% of your audience if you don’t start playing video before 10 seconds after landing on your page. On average, for every second after the two-second mark, you’re going to lose 5.8% of your video audience.
As Associations, we’re not attracting audiences like CNN – losing any of them due to poor video performance can be very costly. A large sponsor, donor, or other deep pocket not waiting to get our message because we didn’t handle our new home page President’s Message isn’t going to show up on our bottom line and not in our analytics.
What’s really sad is this is quite an easy problem to solve. Well maybe it is only easy to me because I’ve needed to become quite well versed in the various video delivery platforms, technologies, and techniques. It is clearly one where there are lots of available solutions which are quite affordable – or even free depending on the level of ownership you’re willing to give up.
Many of our video production clients have wanted to spend a considerable amount of money to get a video produced and then simply host an hour long video on their website – after all, it will play video, right? Well, yes and no.
Streaming video is a technique where the video can start playing after only downloading a small portion of the content – typically only enough to allow the video player to keep ahead of the download activities. Once there is enough of the video downloaded – it starts to play.
It seems, if we respect the data provided in the UMass/Akamai report (and we should – it seems to be very well founded), the easiest way to ensure success with video is to hook up video streaming. While video streaming can be provided in many of today’s web servers – it isn’t for the faint of heart (or lacking in web server administration skills), and can better be provided through a dedicated video content delivery service.
YouTube is a major player in search, and SEO factors (are we surprised given they’re owned by Google), therefore, if your site is going to compete from an SEO perspective, video is important, and YouTube is an important platform for you to include in your video strategy. Fortunately, YouTube is also a really good video content delivery network that doesn’t leave your visitors waiting for your video to start playing (presuming you’re not sticking video ads at the front of your videos). It is easy to integrate YouTube videos on almost any website – our websites actually connect straight up to your YouTube channel to make it super simple to get them on your site.
The downside to YouTube is… You give your rights to the content to YouTube and the YouTube community at large. This means, your video may be “morphed”, re-broadcast without attribution, and a few other things which you may not want to have happen to your videos. This is not to say your actual video will be compromised – but it may be “reused” without your permission. It may also be altered for that “reuse” without obtaining your agreement to the changes. This may not be a good thing for some of your video content.
While YouTube is important, and a good delivery platform which for the most part won’t adversely affect your site’s performance, you probably have some content the rights to which you don’t want to give away. What do you do?
We have worked with StreamingVideoProvider out of the UK. They are a great partner and an excellent streaming video solution – I do recommend them. However, you may want an alternative option – and there are a lot of them – I just typed “streaming video provider” into Google and received some 10 pages of results – they’re out there! Price, capability, and ease of incorporation into your website are likely the top issues you’ll need to use to select your solution provider. Beyond that, you may need a solution for Pay-Per-View, or live streaming, etc. that may help to narrow your search further. In the end, you’re likely to have a handful of real viable streaming solution providers to pick from. License and rights granting are important issues to consider in their usage agreement documents – make sure you don’t give it all away.
And now… the big finish…
What would I do?
Go Video! You want and need video on your website in order to remain relevant in the years to come – might as well start now.
Develop a video strategy that includes YouTube, yet provides for more “private” content without incurring the loss of rights cost.
Find a solid streaming video delivery partner – use my suggested company, or pick another; unless you have a lot of technical resources on hand, at this point, I would stay away from trying to do it on my own.
Get out your handicam, smart phone, or other video recording device and start getting growing your video library!