Video Done Right

If anyone has any doubts whether video has come of age on the web, I have a simple answer to help them see the light: YouTube.

With nearly everyone and their grandmouther routinely posting vidoes on YouTube these days, it’s clear that users not only enjoy this kind of content – they expect to see it. That’s why we, and countless other agencies no doubt, encourage our clients to develop and post short, informative and (as much as possible) entertaining videos to round out their oher marketing content.

Most web videos are created in Flash, which has the advantage of working out of the box on over 95% of the browsers out there. The Flash format works great and allows for “progressive” streaming – that’s tech talk for allowing the video to download ahead of the player. In most cases, this allows the user to view the video without waiting for the whole thing to first download.

Flash works fine for short videos that are posted at a relatively small size and where web traffic is light (say one or two users viewing the video at once). Where problems arise is when traffic increases or the video is longer or in HD format. Most small to midsize websites running on an inexpensive shared server (probably 90% of our clients) will find their videos can’t keep up.

Aside from using YouTube to host your video and simply linking to it, there’s a fairly easy and relatively inexpensive answer to this problem. Use a content delivery network, or CDN. A CDN is a hosted, “cloud” offering, where multimedia content like Flash videos are not posted on your site at all, but on a very fast and specialized network optimized for video. Use a CDN, and visitors to your site viewing a video can then see it full size, in HD and all its glory without any download problems at all.

For one of our newest clients, we are building a photo and video-intensive site, and we’ll be using the Amazon CloudFront CDN to serve it in style. More options, and video player software, are becoming available all the time.

See you at the movies. .