For organizations that create lots of video, self-hosting that content online makes a lot of sense. But when looking into video platforms beyond the familiar YouTube or Vimeo, the array of options can be intimidating.
In fact, even deciding how you’re going to choose a video platform requires a little strategy. Theresa Regli at market research company Real Story Group spoke with StreamingMedia.com on this topic a while back. Regli advises companies looking into different video platforms to consider
- what, precisely, they want to do with their videos, and
- what distributions channels they have in mind.
“Too often people create very long lists of technical requirements, which to a point are useful, but the reality is [online video platforms], they generally all do more or less the same thing and the difference is more how they do it and what technology they use to make it happen,” she says. This includes which channels each platform integrates with and distributes through easiest.
“So, just writing a standard list of requirements isn’t going to get you very far, you have to tell the story, you have to think about what other technologies are sitting around in this peripheral and think of it that way. It’s a bigger picture than just a list of what you want it to do.”
Let’s blow out that big-picture perspective a bit. Here are 5 things you need to keep in mind when selecting a video platform.
1. Does It Simplify Your Workflow?
First, we should point out upfront how many companies and service providers in this space are moving away from terms such as “online video platform” or “enterprise video platform,” and this has a lot to do with workflow management.
“A good OVP has features that address the entire media lifecycle — from file ingest and encoding to publish and playback,” writes the team at thePlatform in Seattle. “The OVP should remove workflow complexity and can scale as a business grows.”
But modern video platforms often do more than that. Many allow you to edit your video from right inside the platform, for example, or help you syndicate and share your videos.
For the purposes of this post, we will use “video platform” as a catchall term, but some of the newer products becoming available have features well outside the scope of traditional video platforms. At minimum, though, look for a product that helps manage the entirety of the workflow with easy, intuitive features.
2. How Does the Video Look Across Different Devices?
Multi-screen audiences have radically changed the way video is delivered. Now, it’s not enough to simply make sure your content renders across different browsers, but across multiple devices.
Australian web content management firm Elcom cites research in its “Marketer’s Guide to Online Video” whitepaper that shows nearly 80% of consumer internet traffic will be video by 2018, and a significant portion of that will be people watching video on mobile. “Cisco claims that over half of all IP traffic will originate with non-PC devices by 2018, and as we saw earlier, by volume most of that traffic will be video,” the whitepaper notes.
3. How Reliable Is the Provider, and What Support Does Its Team Offer?
This point ties into the last one. As consumer demand for video grows, so do expectations that the video will, well, work. There are seemingly an infinite number of variables that can affect video delivery, and you want a platform that will respond quickly to and anticipate anything that can get between your video and the person who wants to watch it.
“Make sure to ask your potential vendor questions about their support to ensure high quality of the support team and their availability,” writes Arkena‘s Jesper Arenhill, whose tips actually are for enterprise video platforms, but this one applies to any video platform.
“If you have offices in different countries, what is their support like in different time zones? It is also worthwhile to compare their guarantees of delivery to make sure the [enterprise video platform] has the capability to deliver to your estimated traffic without interruption or slow down during intense periods.”
4. Does It Have Features You Need Now or Might Need Later?
First, it’s important to point out that choosing a more robust video platform than YouTube or Vimeo doesn’t mean letting go of their best features. Most video platforms will offer features such as video embedding and social sharing, Ember Television‘s Sam Lewis writes. And if it doesn’t, “that’s one less OVP to consider when looking for the right player to suit your marketing needs.”
Next, it’s time to dive into the really exciting features. Jan Ozer at OnlineVideo.net lists a handful of especially compelling features to explore:
- Does the video platform let you add calls to action?
- Does it let you collect email addresses?
- Does it integrate with any marketing automation platforms you use?
Finally, Caroline Kessler at Vidcaster touches on a few more technical specs to look into:
- Does the platform give you the freedom to fill in metadata such as titles and tags, and does it let you include a transcript?
- Does the platform feature device detection?
- Does it offer resolution and data-rate flexibility on playback?
- Does it build in robust security for its streams?
5. Does It Offer Robust Analytics?
Finally, look into what insights your video platform can offer you. In an age of big data and being able to measure everything, it’s good to know, at minimum, how many of your audience members watch your whole video, and who clicks away after a few seconds.
Analytics are important outside of the world of consumer video, too. “Enterprises require video analytics for a variety of use cases,” Dan Dolph writes for Ramp, itself a video management and delivery platform. “Compliance officers need to know if an employee has watched required video content vital to their job performance and/or required by safety and regulatory regulations. Internal training departments extract value from video analytics by examining trends and relationships between videos and viewers.”
Look for a video platform that has the analytics power to deliver whichever of these insights meet your own needs.