It is now the beginning of 2009 and we, the ardent users of interactive technology are riding the crest of a Golden Wave of website video and corporate video production possibilities. I have no doubt that in a conceptually altered Chinese calendar this would be the ‘Year of the WebVideo’ in all its’ various forms and methods of deployment. Anyhow, I’ve been reading up on the subject and this is the impression I’m getting from people in the know.
Technology has again moved forward and new encoding procedures coupled with a general awareness of narrative have brought the great and fantastic possibilities of video, online and into the hands of the common man.
His or her under £150,000 gross operation is obviously crying out for an effective means of one on one communication and somewhere along the line I read that potential customers are 4 times more likely to become actual customers if your web presence is graced with the luminance of corporate video. People buy off people! CEO’s everywhere have, for some time now been scrambling to put into place the most efficient systems and operations that will fully exploit this ardently touted paradigm shift in online visual expectancy.
The figures are all there. Findings in the American market have indicated that the number of consumers who actively engaged in the viewing of a website video production rose by 18% in the second half of 2006. A total of 3.7 billion streams having been watched. Male to female ratios stand close to even on a 52-48 percentage scale. Surprisingly in 2006 it was Yahoo Video that led the pack with around 21 million visitors a month.
MySpace came in a close second with around 20 million a month. So with the stats in mind I guess it wasn’t that surprising to see Google swallow up YouTube which was getting around 16 million faces a month.
According to Jack Flanegan, executive vice president of ComScore Media Metrix who, amongst other things provide detailed analysis of online consumer activity is quoted as saying: “Consumers clearly view video as one of the most accessible, interesting and entertaining sources of content on the web”. And, well…I completely agree. Video has an accessible grounding in reality, and… all things considered… there’s a thirst for it. We are all obsessed with peeping through the crack in the doorway, watching without ‘being watched’.
Video was built for this kind of mentality. There’s no way I would be writing this blog about some useless, defective communication format sent to the archives of history to hang out with smoke signals. Oh no, not me! I am here and now and so is online video, and in this here and now if you want to make some money through your online presence, WebVideos are the progressive medium you should employ.
Ditch the expensive call centers and put your customer service rep on your site in an interactive video display for first hand guidance. Why have a static image of your product when a WebVideo can shift more units. Go ahead, make that play for a full grasp of socially relevant media deployment, move forward, gain the edge. This is the 21st Century in the history of the fine beast that is man. What? You don’t have video on your website?
How to do you maintain peoples interest? Things must be so tough for you. How are you coping? Anyhow that’s what people were saying about websites and that soon caught on. Now look where we are. If the internet is just another room to peer into then it stands to reason that it’s gotta have a TV in the corner.
So how do you go about employing video on your website? What is the right format? More importantly, what should it look like? Obviously with the advent of new encoding procedures it has become incredibly easy for web deployment of video. At the forefront of this new wave of encoding is the On2 VP6 codec which is used primarily by Macromedia Flash 8 and up. The ‘flash player’ is freely available for download and is reportedly on 96% of all internet configured Windows & Macintosh computers. Which is pretty high as far as stats go. Java (84%), Windows Media Player (87%) and Apple Quicktime (59%) all trail behind.
Flash enables anyone to stream videos from their browsers cache at a fraction of the size of other formats thanks to the On2 VP6 compression. Also it has a whole different level of options for interactivity that none of the others have. With flash you can play a hundred videos through the same file without leaving the page and tag a form on the end of the video asking for comments. This is sure to keep people immersed in an interactive video experience. WARNING – Ideas not supplied. Well… not for free that’s for sure. Flash was built for the active medium of the internet and it’s flourishing.
Micro-sites or the huge rise of .tv sites are the high end of video usage for a lot of companies, but high end means high prices, maybe six grand upwards is not in your budget. The average business will probably find use for a handful of videos for an initial outlay of a couple of grand. Obviously there will be niche markets out there where the businesses will have to have video on their site and cannot function without it. Soon enough though it will all be like that. As prophetic as that sounds, I can only image this sort of thing snowballing. Remember the Golden Wave. Ride it and flourish. For if you don’t, it will drown you.
Anyhow, there are companies out there that will put together a 1 minute video for you for around £500, but i’ve seen these videos and from a professional standpoint I know they are operating on a second rate level. The obvious lack of perfectionist ideals and aspirations belongs only to the guy who amazes himself too easily. Another form of online video is the 30 second slot on the homepage. This is fast becoming the successor to the animated header.
The web has for the most part been a silent affair, with users choosing to listen to their favorite band whilst surfing away. Video is changing that and users are becoming used to a little noise. Over time the expectancy values will change and sound on every website will no doubt become a normal affair. This is why a 30 second, dynamic montage based intro will succeed.
Next up is the talking head which can run anywhere from between 20 seconds to 3 minutes long. The talking head can offer a much subtler welcome message and when combined with the use of graphic elements and transparent backgrounds it can still retain an element of entertainment. It has a keen simplicity that doesn’t overload the user and can be acquired for around a grand a minute and upwards, depending on your demands for graphics or titles.
Product or service explanations are very popular uses of the talking head by many companies from insurance to mobile phones. A sort of very subtle advert or showcase to watch at the users discretion. I mean why have bunch of still photographs taken from every conceivable angle when for a little extra cash you can have a 30 second video of someone showcasing the product.
No doubt the usual link to ‘enlarge image’ will change to something like ‘view product video’. A handful of these could be produced for around £500 a pop and considering the ‘click through’ rate you’re bound to make your money back shifting extra units.
All this of course is small change in comparison to what the majority of people are responding to. That my less than inebriated readers is of course, entertainment! By far the single most popular use of video ever. Billions of people, like fragmented herds of hedonistic swine, completely alienated from police state politics are lining up with baited breath for the latest ‘close shave’ video or some pair of seventeen year old girls trying their hand at singing Whitney Houstens’ “I Will Always Love You’. This is bedroom theatre at its’ greatest. This is where the mainstay of WebVideo opportunity lies.
Well… where does this leave the average website I hear you bleat? Simple. Format popularity has very specific impacts on everyday habit and culture. Just look at how far the viewing screen itself has come in all its’ varying forms. The impact entertainment video has on the web is perfectly aligned with a certain expectancy. Users grow through saturation of an idea to expect an element of it in all aspects their everyday lives.
The majority of the world still have boring day jobs and they still yearn for excitement and entertainment. The more saturated we become with website video entertainment as it stands the more demanding we will become. Static websites will always be around because some things need to be static, but hey… if it can be brought to life it better be, cause otherwise i’m outta yer. Boring!!!
The web may well be conceptually as a whole a fascinating work of art, but individual sites are but a mere brush stroke on a gigantic canvas of information. There are a lot of people in the world, maybe 7 billion in all and a few billion of these have internet ready computers, a thirst for entertainment, short attention span and a pocket full of cash to spend on anything that can hold their interest long enough to get their bank card out. If you haven’t got a website video in one form or another, well… what have you got?