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Turning Online Video Complexity into Opportunity

The next 12 months are arguably the most exciting for online video, with social networks driving video search, declared Brightcove president and COO David Mendels, delivering a keynote session at Online Video Strategies.

Massive consumer adoption of smart phones, tablets, and other connected devices is helping to drive equally huge consumption of online video, he argued. Yet these developments bring in far greater complexity, making it more difficult for companies to actually publish video.

Mendels compared the relative simplicity of internet video publishing in the early half of the decade with the vastly more complex hoops that content may have to go through in order to be viewed today.

"When we think of online video growth, we think of YouTube, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, and certainly half of all online video traffic comes via these few large sites, yet the other half is actually  faster-brands, government, education, retail-any company can now be a media company," Mendels said. "Brightcove began life six years ago by thinking that every web page would be a video website, with video as ubiquitous as text and images and this is now coming true.

"In the early days, you put a video on a server for progressive download and viewing by Flash players on a PC. That was pretty simple. But, as bandwidth expanded, screen sizes expanded, and CPUs increased in power, the demand for greater quality stream video using adaptive bit rates emerged."

On top of adaptive bit rates there are multiple other layers of complexity such as delivery to mobile devices which may or may not accept Flash or require writing to native apps for iOS and Android. As viewers turn to connected TVs, there may be additional platforms to consider from Samsung TVs to Apple TV and Google TV. Each new device has different runtimes.

"Whereas a few years back a few short form clips were uploaded in order to drive viewers back to cable or linear broadcasters, now there's not only an explosion in the sheer number of videos-we have a for example uploading 100,000 videos a month-but the web is now being used as a channel for high quality long form video.

"The last layer is how people are finding all this video," said Mendels. "In the early days you went to Yahoo or Google and performed a straightforward search. Now, we are increasingly seeing that more people are finding content via social network sites, notably Facebook and Twitter."

Referrals to video content from Facebook stand at 48%, Twitter at 38%, with Google showing 20%, Brightcove research suggested.

"And, when people find content through social networks, average engagement times are higher," he added.

"There is a massive opportunity for media companies in terms of the exponential rise in demand for online video. What's more, there are tangible metrics that can deliver real ROIs. Meanwhile, online video players have emerged as a critical help for publishers to navigate the new fragmented landscape and runtimes, so that they can maximise return on online video investment."

Mendels demonstrated brands including the UK's Football Association (FA), broadcaster Five, and fashion brand Pink which have enabled their videos to be played using the same branded skin and player, then embedded on dedicated Facebook pages.

"This new category of online video platform can extrapolate all the extraordinary complexity to allow companies to innovate content as opposed to trying to invent a video publishing system from scratch," he said.

Mendels also revealed that Brightcove is about to release an application for the iPhone which enables users to take video with the phone and post to Brightcove's platform.

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