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Case Study: The Magic of Affordable Video Delivery

Austin Brooks finds it easy to makes playing cards appear out of nowhere and catch a paintball bullet with his teeth. What gave him trouble, though, was getting great-looking video on his website.

As a professional magician, Brooks needs to show his act to potential clients around the country. Just having a website isn't enough; it needs to demonstrate the full range of what he can offer in a performance.

Brooks's first video host was YouTube, which is the starting point for a lot of people. But he found that having YouTube videos embedded on his site didn't look professional, plus playback often stuttered. If he wanted to attract corporate clients, he knew he needed something more professional.

Looking for a more polished player, he began exploring other options. Since he owns an internet marketing company, he tried hosting videos on his own server. The workflow challenges, including uploading videos, building a Flash player, and embedding the videos in his site, were too overwhelming for him. He needed a company that could make the process simpler.

He next went to Vimeo, since it offered $60-a-month Plus service. He discovered that the site has a rule against commercial content, however, so that didn't last long.

Next he moved to an online video platform (OVP). While he liked the people who worked at the one he chose, he was bothered that the player didn't have social sharing tools. It also didn't offer multiple bitrate streaming. If he uploaded a high-definition video, that's how it got streamed, he said, so it wouldn't work well over slower connections.

Next, he tried a second OVP.  This one's interface was foreign to him, though, and was simply too difficult to figure out. He found the company's player implementation too challenging.

Since his site was built on WordPress, he even tried the blog platform's hosted video service, something he now calls "horrid." It took 40 seconds for a video to buffer and play. "It wasn't good at all," he says.

While leafing through an issue of StreamingMedia magazine, Brooks saw an ad for Brightcove and thought he should give a major online video platform a try. He browsed the company's website and didn't see any information on pricing. After doing some googling, he learned that service started at around $600 per month. That was too much for him to afford, unfortunately.

Express service, starting at $99 per month, and Brooks read about it in a blog post. Now that he could afford. He started a 30-day trial and immediately liked how simple everything was.

"It was very easy to comprehend," he says. Areas for uploading video and creating a player were clearly marked, and using the online tools was simple. He uploaded his work, added links for the social sharing tools, and got an embed code for his site.

When he had to contact Brightcove with questions, he liked its level of personal service. "They really made me feel like I was just as important as their major clients," he says.

Like Magic
Brooks has been with Brightcove for nine months now and has already seen improvements to his business. Brightcove's analytics tools showed him how long people were watching his videos. By studying where people dropped off, he learned that putting his eight minute demo reel online wasn't a good idea: people tended to drop off after two-and-a-half minutes, and his best material didn't start until four minutes in.

Once he trimmed his footage into short clips, he found that people finished the videos they started and went on to watch more.

Having many short clips helps when working with clients. When he's on the phone with a client, he can refer to specific tricks to help the customer customize the act he'll perform. The clients like that they're crafting a show with him, and he likes that clients can see exactly what they're getting.

The professional look of Brightcove's player is crucial to Brooks, since he's trying to win corporate clients. Most of his competitors, he says, embed with YouTube. Having a finished look helps his site stand apart.

Brooks plans to build custom websites for the major cities he works in, and likes that Brightcove will make adding videos to those new sites easy. He'll simply add his embed code. When he needs to add videos or make changes to the player, he'll be able to do it once for all his sites.

He likes Brightcove enough that he wrote his own review of its service. Check it out to read the story in his own words.

Brooks will soon be leaving Brightcove's $99 Express plan, but only because he's reached the plan's 50 video limit and wants to add more. He's going to move to the $199 Express plan, which lets him host 200 videos. With Brightcove service making new clients appear out of thin air, it's the smart way to grow his site.

Troy Dreier's article first appeared on OnlineVideo.net

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