August 14, 2007 – Video, with its inherent qualities, offers the potential to create the most engaging user experiences available online. This is especially true for entertainment-related companies, who are responsible for some of the highest quality content out there. However, the opportunity of creating an amazing user experience with video online comes with the challenge of getting the video to live up to its potential. As I am sure you have noticed, more often than not, your experience with video is not as tight and seamless as you would like it to be to feel completely satisfied. Let's face it: video is tricky to really get right online. As a content owner or publisher, a number of variables must be accounted for that you have no real control over (bandwidth, net congestion, varied browsers, among others). Marketers also have to keep a keen eye on the interactive options accessible around the video.
The video player you choose needs to have the flexibility and intelligence that creates as seamless a user experience as possible. There are two key topics to keep top of mind when looking to accomplish this: expectation and relevance.
With broadband now being considered a commodity, online consumers expect the video to work flawlessly when they click the play button. Moreover, they expect the video experience to include additional clickable options that are well coordinated with the video itself. Consumers expect to be able to control their environment and interact with content they are most interested in.
Following are some key functionalities your video platform player needs to perform to keep the quality of the experience as high as possible.
Automatic bandwidth checking. The player should auto-detect the bandwidth of each individual user, and should have the ability to adjust the video that is played so that it does not try to stream a file that is too big. This helps keep the video from hesitating mid-stream, which can drive impatient viewers away before they get a chance to engage with your content.
The video should pause when something is clicked or initiated. The video player should have the intelligence to determine when another item is clicked or initiated and the flexibility to adjust for this. We have all had the horrible experience when a video is playing and we click on an something else on the page and a new window pops open, while the video continues to play… behind the new open window.
Allow each interested user to see the content. Many entertainment entities choose to stream their content at a high quality. However, for viewers with a slower bandwidth connection, this high-bandwidth requirement can interrupt a streaming video file. If progressive delivery of the video is acceptable, your video player should be able to automatically switch to this delivery format when necessary. This way, the interested viewer just needs to wait a few more seconds for the video to load progressively, and the video will play without stuttering or stopping.
Failover delivery option. As we know, when you click the play button, you expect the video to play. So, to manage and control some of the irregularities of the internet, your player should be able to switch to a failover location to play the video. For example, if you have your videos at content delivery network (CDN) "X", and there is some issue with delivering the video, your player should know that after a certain amount of time passes without the video loading -- say 5 seconds -- it should either try again or switch to CDN "Y" to pull the same video. Your consumers expect the video to show up when they asked to see it. This is how you can make sure that happens.
Making sure all content available to the consumer on a web page or in a video presentation is as relevant as possible needs to be a priority for those who are concerned with a quality user experience. Most of the discussion around relevancy has been centered on the advertising component. Serious strides have been made with behavioral targeting for ads as it relates to predictions about viewers. So relevant/integrated advertising or sponsorship is a mandatory -- no exception, no excuses!
In addition, relevancy should also be considered as it relates to the available content from a publisher or content owner. If content is not relevant to you, know matter what the quality, it is not doing its job to grow the relationship with the consumer and create a memorable user experience.
Your video platform should have the ability to dynamically alter the content based what each consumer prefers to see, as well as know their location, either by time zone or by zip code (if they have provided that information). This scenario maximizes the relevancy of the video content for the consumer and provides you, the marketer, with the ability to better communicate to each consumer on an individual basis.
Making the consumer work too hard to get to the content they desire diminishes the overall experience, and once you've disappointed a consumer, they may not give you another chance. On the flip side, seamlessly presenting relevant content on a one-to-one basis with the consumer creates loyalty and long-lasting relationships.
Video online creates a great user experience -- if it is done correctly. The technical capabilities are already available. It just takes a little planning and forethought to create a video presentation that is seamless and intuitive. Your customers will thank you by continuing to come back, again and again!