Choose Wisely: Selecting An Online Video Platform
Beyond social media sites, many consumer video sites are starting to use their OVPs to distribute to iPhones and other mobile devices, for both continuing and event-specific distribution. As an example, AllHipHop.com serves its mobile customers through OVP Kaltura, uploading a single file that Kaltura encodes as needed for all target playback platforms. Currently, AllHipHop uses Kaltura templates to deploy the iPhone and Android’s native video player rather than using a custom player for each device. All mobile streams have static data rates, though Frempong expects to add HTTP Live Streaming with dynamic streams through Kaltura in the next few months.
Sniper’s Hide Frank Galli of Sniper’s Hide reports click-throughs of 4% or greater on direct responseadvertisements such as this one, with up to 30% for informational type click-throughs.
VH1 has its own platform for web and mobile streaming. But when it needed a short-term mobile platform for the Hip Hop Honors show, it used Kyte’s mobile applications framework. I spoke with Noah Vadnai, senior director of VH1 Mobile, who commented, "Custom applications are expensive, but Kyte’s plug-and-play framework made it easy and affordable to deploy a range of services along with the video, like Twitter feeds, comments, and ratings."
Obviously, integration with social media is equally important for traditional streaming applications. Oakstone Publishing’s Christopher commented, "We would like to have ratings, reviews, and commenting because they are proven means of increasing sales." Christopher also assessed the search engine friendliness of the video players posted by each OVP.
The Open Source Alternative
Multiple interviewees—primarily those working with Kaltura—valued the open source nature of the Kaltura offering, though the reasons varied. For Davyeon Ross, president of AthletixNation (www.athletixnation.com), it was all about time to market. "Kaltura gave us about 85% of what we needed, and [it] matched up well with our in-house development expertise. That got us to market faster with a superior product."
For Bruce Colwin, founder of LegalMinds.tv (www.legalminds.tv), an open source OVP gave him control over his distribution platform. "I’ve worked with multiple vendors in the past, and sometimes they promised features in upcoming releases that didn’t make it in. I don’t want to count on my OVP provider to build out the functionality that I needed going forward, and an open source platform lets me build what I need if I have to."
AllHipHop’s Frempong had a different take—damage control. "Our software lives with Kaltura on their server, but I have access and rights to that software. If anything happened to Kaltura, I’d have to look for another hosting provider, but I still walk away with the platform. With other OVPs, I could be dead in the water."
Moving into less mainstream OVP offerings, another group of companies valued interactivity within the video, claiming response rates greater than those achieved with other advertising mechanisms. Veeple user Galli of Sniper’s Hide includes clickable video links for rifle scopes and other products he reviews; he reports click-throughs to the seller’s website in the 4%–6% range and up to 30% for informational (as opposed to sales-oriented) click-throughs. For example, in his training videos, he may make pants, boots, or other equipment clickable so viewers can view the make and model.
Another Veeple user, Erik Boles of Beer Tap TV (www.beertaptv.com), reports even higher response rates. "If we make a beer mug clickable in a show, it might generate click-throughs in excess of 20%. Click-throughs to our forums—say to answer a trivia question—can exceed 50%."
With its new Sorenson 360 OVP and the most recent version of its encoding program, Squeeze 6, Sorenson created a review-and-approval workflow that many customers find a valuable timesaver. Guy Cirinelli of Cirinelli Video Productions uses Squeeze as his encoding tool and Sorenson 360 to host videos on his site and for many of his clients. "With Squeeze 5, I had to wait around until my project finished encoding, then upload it for customer review. With Squeeze 6 and Sorenson 360, I encode and upload in a single step, plus [I] have a dedicated webpage to collect feedback. For longer projects, the integrated workflow means that I get to go home at 5:00 rather than 7:00."
Companies looking for an OVP often chase the wrong features. It's not what the OVP can do, but what platforms it integrates with easily.
The newest version of Sorenson's OVP offers faster response times, unlimited RTMP streaming.
New monthly update cycle brings clients better encoding, faster uploads.
New service makes transcoding and delivery free if self-hosting
Companies and Suppliers Mentioned