Over the past few years we have found remarkable success developing video content that engages customers and drives sales, but we're still finding that companies tend to focus on the wrong issues when it comes to producing content for online videos. They still think, in my opinion counterproductively, it's television advertising... but that's another story.
What I want to talk about today is the technical aspects of online video and why most companies are overspending on tech while ignoring content.
Digital camera technology has advanced faster than semiconductor tech over the past 10 years to the point that what was professional grade equipment back then is now low-end throw-away products today. For example, some of the shots in the major battle scenes in the blockbuster film The Avengers was actually done by director Joss Whedon with a handheld iPhone. (And I defy you to identify which shots they were.) But many companies either shy away from video altogether because they look at the cost of professional-grade production or they drop thousands of dollars into equipment and staging that is completely beyond current web capacity.
Lots of people have big, HD TVs and Google's Youtube even offers streaming in HD, but in order to see the benefit of 1080p HD video, you need a monitor that is a minimum of 42 inches wide and place now closer than 6 feet from the viewer. I don't know about you, but my computer screen isn't that big and I sit a lot closer to it. For online viewing 720p is considered HD quality on screens smaller than 32 inches. It also happens to make videos 3 times smaller than 1080p and that is crucial to the success of your video.
A recent study by Akamai Technologies found that some users will wait no more than 2 seconds for a video to start playing, with each additional second adding 6% to the abandonment rate. That expectation gets even more hardline if the user has a good broadband connection. The study further said video freezing will make the viewer less likely to the full video. If a video freezes for 1% of its total play time, 5% less of its total play time is watched, on average.
You can't control the connectivity rates of your audience, nor can you control the processing power of your viewers computers, but the smaller the file size of your video is, the less likely viewers are going to experience loading and freezing problems. And that means buying a $5,000 video camera and producing vids with a ton of special effects (e.g. green screen backgrounds that add a ton of graphic data) is counterproductive to getting your content into the brains of your audience.
Users will further negate the value of your tech if they have problems viewing your highly produced and expensive vid by changing how they accept your data. For example, Google will allow the user to reduce the resolution down to as low as 144p in order to allow it to load and play faster, which pretty much throws your tech and production investment out the window.
Google makes it even tougher when you allow them to tack ads onto the front of your content. They give bandwidth preference to an advertiser and then cut it off for the video producer... unless he, too, is an advertiser. So you can have a 1080p advertisement and a 480p vid, and the advertisement will be sure to load but your vid will freeze.
So you may covet having a high-end video company producing your material, or purchasing professional grade equipment and studios to do it in house, but it is generally a wast of money, time and resources. Concentrate on getting the content right and keep the rest simple.