Jan 24, 2012
Broadband access to the Internet has become commonplace. And, the desire to view online video by healthcare professionals only continues to increase. Until recent, Adobe Flash (flv format) has been the industry standard for viewing online video; however, its popularity with marketers (and their tech teams) have dropped over time for a variety of reasons. One key reason is that Flash is not compatible with the most popular mobile devices (iPhone, iPod, and iPad). While Apple rocked as the device leader for the past 3 years, it’s kept Flash from being the video star of mobile.
Last September, Adobe saw the writing on the wall and announced their media server (Adobe's Flash Media Server 4.5) will have the ability to detect any device visiting a website and determine the best format to stream content. Sounds great, but two concerns with the Flash Media Server still exist:
1. It currently only supports Flash video formats (flv)
2. In some cases, it’s cost prohibitive to install and maintain
While interesting from a technology and ‘geek’ perspective, what does all this mean to marketers? How can one user experience be created that’s as seamless as possible, cost effective to deploy across all devices, and not give design and tech teams fits?
So, I assessed the present situation and came up with a realistic approach to serving video across the majority of browsers and devices, with as little duplication of effort an assets as possible, making the marketer, creative, tech team, and client happy.
Whether you’re marketing to healthcare professionals or consumers, most are consuming video on various devices. Whether performing research, viewing testimonials, watching presentations, or just plain hitting Netflix or YouTube, video consumption is becoming more popular every day. And, if your online/digital campaigns don’t or can’t display video across the majority of desktop and mobile devices, you’re missing big opportunities to connect with your audience.
The good news is there’s a format called “m4v” available that uses “H.264” (the same compression used for BlueRay DVDs). When used together, they create a neat little video format that will play across virtually any mobile/tablet device and in the Flash player itself. Based on our tests, it performs well on mobile and may offer a potential solution for overcoming the limitations of Flash video formats.
Implementing the solution above is not that hard. And, it let’s you leverage a single video asset (as opposed to creating different videos for different devices). All you need to do is tell your agency, creative, or tech team to have your website detect the device and web browser hitting your website before it loads. If the browser can handle HTML5 and on an Apple device, play the H.264 video right through the browser. On the other hand, if the browser is older and the device is anything other than an Apple product, load Flash and play the H.264 video through Flash.
The end result? With a few lines of code, and one video file, you can unify the video user experience across virtually all browsers and devices.
If there’s anything I’ve missed or you want to continue the debate, leave a message in the comments or contact me directly.
By Dennis Hatcher, Director of Technology