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Archive for Video Management

Ah the World Cup. To some just a collection of football (or soccer to those across the pond) matches. But to brands. A huge, no make that HUGE, opportunity to score (geddit?) some extra revenue.

So what happened to video views during the World Cup? And what can we learn from that to inform online video strategy next time there’s a big global shindig?

A couple of headline stats stand out:

Online video views (typically) fell during match times

The most notable of these perhaps not surprisingly being during the World Cup Final. Video views fell by 31% while the match was aired.

Online Video Views During World Cup

Looks like the world’s attention was on the match, with people choosing to watch with friends and family as part of a social event. Taking a break from their online activities – at least for a little while.

Video views soar after each match

Now look what happened immediately following the game, 130% increase in video views – whew!

And we saw this across the board, with peaks in viewing figures swiftly following the majority of World Cup matches.

All of this suggest that rather than using online video during the match, fans turned online only after the whistle blew – choosing to relive the experience that way.

So, what does this tell us?

1. Are you prepared for drama?

Remember those surges in video views after each match? Well, the biggest surges tended to come after matches which saw particularly high drama or shocking outcomes:

  • 89% hike in viewing figures following Cameroon vs Croatia, a match which saw a fight break out between Cameroon team mates Assou-Ekotto and Mkandio.
  • 58% increase post Brazil vs Columbia, during this match Brazilian favorite Neymar sustained a back injury which put him out of the rest of the tournament.
  • 57% after Spain vs Netherlands in which 2010 champions Spain crashed out.

To make the most of these moment you need to respond quickly. With any live event – not just football – there’s sure to be surprises in store (we saw this with Oreo’s speedy response to the SuperBowl blackout).

But, it’s not like you know in advance what’s going to happen during each game. So you need to have systems in place that allow you to react swiftly, which brings us to the first of our three key takeaways:

If you can’t supply your content quickly your audience may go elsewhere. Choose your tools carefully, it shouldn’t take more than a few clicks of a mouse button to get your videos live.

2. Can you handle the load?

So you manage to react to a big shock during whatever event is happening. But can you handle the traffic that brings your way?

Throughout the World Cup 67% of total video views were of sports videos.

In fact, Futbol Sites saw a whopping 300% increase in video views. And this just goes to show how much real world events can impact the online realm.

Futbol Sites is a network of football sites across Latin America so for them the World Cup was always gonna be a big deal.

Are there any real world events that your business is linked to? Perhaps you’re a cycling goods store and it’s Tour De France time, or maybe you’re a purveyor of tennis racquets during the US Open – whatever. Don’t underestimate the potential traffic gains.

Key takeaway: choose a global CDN that can handle a heavy load – you don’t want to crash under the weight of traffic that could come your way.

3. What will you do with all that traffic?

You’ve supplied relevant content, at just the right time. And your videos are streaming smoothly. Now what?

Having lots of video views is great… but what are you doing with those video views? How are you going to use them to help your business?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

1. Raise brand awareness.

Particularly if you’re news jacking some major worldwide event. People are probably looking for the kind of content you’re providing. And you should be seeing your video views rise. Make the most of it by making your video easy to share.

The aim here is to get as many people to watch as possible. By adding social sharing options to your videos you’ll encourage your viewers to spread the word across their social networks.

2. Raise revenue.

There’s tons of statistics about how people are more likely to buy products if they’ve watched a video about that product.

Great if you’re an eCommerce site selling football boots, for example: you’ve got a video covering the World Cup action, you got lots of people viewing that video. Be sure to include a call to action and link to said football boots to really squeeze conversions out of it.

But what if you’re not selling a product per se. What if, like Futbol Sites you’re more of a media or online publishing site?

You can still make money from your video with video advertising.

“Our sites showed the feeling, the atmosphere and the game at its best. With vzaar’s support we were able to capitalise on all of that growth with pre-roll video advertising in Latin America from advertisers such as Ford, Nike, Pringles, Gillette, Gatorade and more” – Emmanuel Serruya, Futbol Sites

You need to think strategically when you’re planning your video content to make sure you achieve whatever it is you’re hoping to – be it awareness, sales or advertising revenues.

Third and final take away: have a plan in place to maximise revenue from your video views and make sure you’ve got the tools you need to make it happen.

In Summary…

With gazillions of people all focused on one tournament it’s bound to have huge effects elsewhere. Next time there’s an event of this kind (Commonwealth Games anyone?) make sure you make the most of it.

You need to be able to react quickly, handle large amounts of traffic and have a plan in place to capitalise on that traffic.

Flash v HTML5 Video There are always battles being fought between existing and emerging technologies, and one currently capturing the headlines here at vzaar is Flash vs. HTML5.

Our business is all about delivering videos, so making sure we use the best technology to do this is a pretty important decision.

As with every case of this type, there are pros and cons to both approaches. I’ll outline the key points that helped us decide how to get the most from the two technologies.

Flash

Flash is well established as a video delivery platform. Way back in 2002 Macromedia release the first iteration of flash player – Flash Player 6 – with support for video playback. Demand for online video has been growing ever since, and Flash Player has been constantly evolving to keep pace.

As a result of this development Flash now boasts RTMP and RTMPe playback.

Benefits of using Flash video

Secure Video Streaming

RTMP stand for Real Time Messaging Protocol, with the ‘e’ meaning encrypted. This is the most secure way to stream your videos. In a nutshell, RTMPe lets Flash Media Server – Adobe’s rich media server, designed to serve video and other assets to Flash applications – deliver encrypted chunks of the video to the viewer, just in time for them to be played back on the users device. These chunks are then deleted after watching, so the whole file is never left exposed on the viewer’s computer and is much less susceptible to download and theft. This video explains in a bit more detail.

Browser Support

Another positive for Flash is it runs in a virtual machine. In other words, Flash player does all the processing of any Flash file, independently of the browser that is displaying the content.

Most modern browsers are becoming a lot more consistent with how they handle web content, but there are still differences between them. These differences are why a web page can look different if you call it up in two different browsers.

The Flash Player virtual machine bypasses many of these differences and gives users an almost identical experience on all browsers.

This is also how Flash can play video on older browsers that are not themselves capable of playing a video file. It simply does all the work itself.

Mobile Delivery

The big down side of Flash is that it doesn’t work on mobile or tablets. When smart phones started taking over the planet, there were a number of devices that ran a version of Flash Player, but this only really served to demonstrate that Flash and mobile don’t mix. Because mobile phones aren’t as powerful as a desktop computer, they were only capable of running a “Lite” version of Flash, which in turn, was incapable of running many Flash applications.

Users trying to access Flash content on their phones were often greeted by an error message or a blank square where the content should have been. When the Flash application did load, it would likely run very slowly, and have a UI designed for mouse based interaction instead of touch.

In 2011, soon after Apple publicly stated they weren’t going to support Flash on any of their iOS devices, Adobe announced the end of Flash for mobile. As a result, whilst Flash is a very effective online video delivery tool on the desktop, it’s pretty much useless for handheld devices.

With video becoming increasingly mobile accessing to hand held, these mobile consumers are critical to our clients. For this reason above all others, Flash is no longer the one stop shop for video delivery.

HTML5

The Term HTML5 refers to the 5th version of the Hyper Text Markup Language, first released by the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C in 2008. It’s the markup language used to create web pages. The key points – from our point of view at least – that separate HTML5 from version 4 are the inclusion of audio and video tags. These allow a web developer to add a video directly to the web page, without the need for a third party plugin like Flash.

HTML5 didn’t really take off until 2011 when Flash ended mobile support. By then it had had time to bed in and worked through the early teething problems. When the mobile Rich Internet Application (RIA) market opened up, HTML5 was ready and waiting to plug the gap.

Benefits of html5 video

Mobile Delivery

About 80% of browsers – both mobile and desktop – now support HTML5 video. Critically, both Android and iOS are included in this 80%. This is why it was a no brainer decision for us to add HTML5 video support. Without it we’d basically be ignoring the two top mobile platforms.

HTML5 is definitely the up and coming technology. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding it and development driving it. In the not too distant future it may be the only technology required to play video, but at present it still has some omissions which mean it can’t yet cover all bases.

Browser Support

The first issue is the remaining 20% of browsers that don’t support HTML5 video. As a video hosting platform, our customers expect their videos to play on pretty much every internet connected device out there, not just 80% of them.

Secure Video Streaming

The second issue is security. At this point, there’s no method in place for securing videos delivered using HTML5. The video file is transferred to the viewer’s device openly, and is very easy to intercept, download and steal. For content owners who wish to keep control of their assets, this is a pretty critical point against HTML5.

Some big industrial names have been lobbying for the inclusion of a Digital Rights Management (DRM) system in HTML5, which would overcome the security issue. However, there’s also a number organisations fighting against such systems claiming that it would basically be a plug-in all of its own and therefore in conflict with HTML5’s goal of plugin free video delivery.

At this point we don’t know which side is going to win out, but we’ll definitely be keeping a keen eye out for any signs of an outcome.

Which is best?

Neither Flash or HTML5 has all the answers, but equally neither can be ignored.

Enabling videos to play back as smoothly as possible on pretty much any capable internet connected device, that means drawing upon the strengths of both technologies.

Flash HTML5 Comparison Table

The good news is, you don’t really have to choose between the two. We’ll work out which method is best for you and automatically use it. We continue to use Flash for secure playback and to overcome compatibility issues with older browsers, whilst simultaneously pitting HTML5 against the mobile and tablet challenge.

I do believe, though, that HTML5 will play an ever more prominent role in our player development. Delivering to mobile and tablets was reason enough to embrace the technology as it stands, but if DRM becomes possible, and as the supported browser percentages goes up, we’ll definitely be placing increased importance on this fresh and evolving approach.

Additional Resources

Adobe Flash Player Real Time Messaging Protocol HTML5 Player HTML5    

Not all Internet connections were created equal: some of your viewers will have super speedy Internet and others, well… won’t.

The problem is, those on the high speed connections will expect videos in beautiful HD quality. While those on the slow speed connections won’t be able to handle such large files.

Dual Encoding is the solution.

In a nutshell, Dual Encoding means you can stream HD quality to fast connections, and a smaller SD version for those on the slower ones. This makes sure your audience get the best quality video stream for them. Everyone’s happy.

It can be a tad confusing to understand exactly what Dual Encoding is, and how it works. So, rather than tell you all the ins and outs; I’ll turn to the power of video to show you:

Good stuff right?

And we’ve made it even better

We’ve always offered the ability to control your encoding parameters. This is something few other services offer. However, after we introduced dual-encoding, something was missing. Rather than allowing you to control the size of the HD rendition, we generated one automatically for you.

But now: you have the power

We’ve added in the ability for you to set the quality of the HD rendition for yourself. You just need to set the bitrate in your account settings.

Now – so long as you have Dual Encoding turned on – we’ll encode the HD version of your video at the bitrate you have chosen.

Dual Encoding In Account Settings

This gives you lots more control. For example you can now give your audience super HD video quality if you so choose.

Happy days.

buy dual encoding

Want to know more? Take a look through the help document or simply get in touch with any questions. We’re always happy to help.

**Dual Encoding is available as an add-on to the Business and above.

Categories Video Management, vzaar updates
Comments (2)

Here at vzaar support, we see a lot of videos! I’ve noticed recently that a lot of videos we’re delivering for customers are much bigger than they need to be which can lead to playback problems and uses up bandwidth faster than needed. Using the wrong encoding settings can actually increase the size of your videos, so let’s take a look at why that can happen and how to avoid it…

Source video vs. target video

When you upload your video to vzaar, the video you are uploading is referred to as the ‘source’ video. In most cases, we’ll re-encode your video for online delivery (because the quality and size of video used in desktop editing and viewing can be too high and too big for viewing over an average internet connection).

Once your video is encoded, that’s the version we deliver to your viewers and we refer to it as the ‘target’ video. In some cases (if you’re using iOS Optimized Streams or Dual Encoding) we’ll create more than one target video – we call those different renditions.

Bitrates and bandwidth

Like any other digital media, video is made up of bits and bytes of data. The bitrate of your video is the number of bits that are conveyed per unit of time. In online and desktop video, you’ll normally see it measured in Kbits per second (Kbps).

Very generally speaking, the higher the bitrate, the better the quality of the video. However, you can’t add quality to a video after the fact. If your video is recorded at, say, 2,000Kbps, you can’t just re-encode it at 4,000Kbps and make it look twice as good – you’ll just end up with a much bigger file which looks the same (or worse) and eats up bandwidth twice as fast!

Playback bandwidth is the data streamed – from us to your viewer – when a video is played. For example, if you have a video that is 10Mb and it is watched from start to finish once you would have used 10Mb of your monthly playback allowance (actually, you’ll have used just a little more than that because we have to deliver a player and the poster frame for your video).

vzaar Encoding

When you upload your source video using our upload page, you’ll see that you have the ability to change the size and bitrate of the video:

upload_multiple_videos_to_vzaar___vzaar_com

The settings under “video dimensions” such as ‘Small’, ‘Medium’, ‘Large’ and ‘High Definition’ are pre-sets for convenience. ‘Original’ will use the original settings of your source and ‘Custom’ let’s you set the width and bit rate for your target video explicitly.

It’s important that you always choose a Kbits value which is the same or smaller than that of your source so that you don’t increase the size of your video during encoding.

If you look under the title of any of your videos on the video manage page, you’ll see “Content storage”. Click on the small, green downward arrow and you’ll see something like this:

video_-_more_bandwidth__4000K____vzaar_com

In this case, I chose a bitrate – 4000Kbps – which was significantly higher than that of the source. Now the target file is 3 times the size which means we’re using 3 times as much bandwidth as we need to!

And it looks no better.

The source video in that example was encoded at 780Kbps. If I upload the file again and choose 512 for Kbits, you see this:

video_-_less_bandwidth__512K____vzaar_com

Now we have a smaller file size which uses less bandwidth, less money AND still gives your viewers a great quality video.

Here’s the two examples so you can compare the difference for yourselves:

512Kbps: smaller size & less bandwidth

4000Kbps: large size & more bandwidth

What if I don’t know my source file bit rate?

If you’re creating and editing the video, you’ll normally set the bitrate of the source video in the final export settings. In Adobe Premiere, it looks like this:

adobepremier

If somebody else creates the video or you’re just not sure of the bit rate you can use a tool like Media Info or Media Inspector to find it out.

In summary

Find out the bitrate of your source video and, when uploading to vzaar, set the Kbits rate to a number which is the same or smaller.

Experiment with different bit rates to find a setting which makes your videos look great during playback and keeps the target video size as low as possible. That way, you’ll provide your viewers with a great viewing experience (and save yourself some money while you do it).

Categories Tech Tips, Video Management, vzaar FAQ
Comments (0)

Did you know that video results have a 41% higher click through rate than standard results? (Econsultancy)

But, how do you get those video results ranking in search results in the first place?

That’s where video sitemaps come in. A video sitemap is an xml feed which provides Google with information about the video so it can better determine whether the content is useful and relevant for a particular search query.

We just launched our new video SEO feature which builds the video sitemap for you, providing you with the code Google needs to be able to index your video.

We thought we’d give you a run through of how it works in three quick 10 second tips…

Step 1: Create Your Video Sitemap

Step 2: Add Videos To Your Sitemap

Once you have generated your video sitemap you need to add in the videos you want to be indexed by Google. This is where you need to enter the meta information that lets Google know what the video is about.

Step 3: Check For Video Sitemap Errors and Fix ‘Em

A word of warning!

An incorrect sitemap can have a damaging impact on your SEO. It’s important not to include videos that are missing any of the essential elements: title, description, url.

But, we’ve got your back.

We’ll automatically exclude those videos from the sitemap and flag them as errors in your account. If you want to get these videos in the search results you will need to fix all your errors before we can include them.

Next Steps…

If you want to give it a try log in to your account or start a free trial and have a go for yourself.

Additional Resources

vzaar: Devs Explain Video Sitemaps

Distilled: Killer Video SEO Tips

Video SEO Help Document