This service looks to do a fly-by but can’t manage to get off the ground. The Dovie.tv service has so many limitations that it simply can’t fly under its own weight. Before I was even able to taxi to the runway my experience was grounded in errors and limitations.
UPDATE: (per Mark Robertson) – J.R. Storment, President, Dovie Inc. commented on the article and mentioned that they have addressed a lot of the issues we covered below. We havent had the chance to test this, but it is nice to see that they are working on things. Also – if interested, he is offering all ReelSEO readers an exclusive extended free trial for those who email Dovie at [email protected].
Starting with some very basic things like a channel logo can only be .PNG, filenames can’t have spaces or hyphens in them (why hyphens, I’ve got no clue). Uploads happen in a browser window and you have to keep that one open and open a new one to do any work while something uploads. Sure that last thing is very much like YouTube and some others, so we won’t hold that against them. The service can only accept three formats of upload including .MOV, .MP4 and.FLV Now they say (which I’ll show you later) that they can accept .WMV files, however, when you attempt to browse for them, it can’t find them.
In regards to upload speed, I wasn’t all that impressed (I installed Windows 7 on another machine faster than a 95MB video uploaded). It seems that the cloud that Dovie resides on isn’t anywhere near my piece of sky. Finally, when it was done (as was 50% of this article) I had to wait for it to process. Here’s the message you get shortly after.
Sorry, we’re still cranking out dozens of versions of your video for adaptive bitrate streaming to Flash and HTML5. It will generally be available for viewing/embedding 10-30 minutes after uploading, depending on the length of the video. Longer videos (over 10 minutes) and/or larger source files (over 250MB) will have longer encoding times, typically 1-2 hours.
As stated the test video was 95MB. It took about 10 minutes for the service to process a list of thumbnails. I did another test with a 75MB FLV to see how long it would take to upload and process. The second upload took 35 minutes or roughly 2.1 MB per minute and processing took like an hour… remember, it was just 75MBs of FLV.
Dovie.tv Video Organization and Distribution
The service allows you to group videos into channels. This is essentially a playlist that will play all of the videos in the channel in the order that you decide. It can also do advertising, but you have to use their advertising service and I see no option to run your own ads. Each channel can have its own logo and the playlists can be styled. But other than that it’s just a standard playlist-capable video player. They say that the added advantage of the service is that you can make a change to the channel and all of your embeds will be updated with the new playlist etc. Of course, if you’re using and XML or RSS feed to create your playlist, that would also update automatically.
Dovie.tv Video Encoding – FAIL
The service failed on an encode and gave me the following message:
It looks like there was an issue encoding your video. Please try a different source file, and read our tips on preparing your video for upload.
The video source file was a .MOV 1280×720, 9.5Mbps data with 9.7Mbps total bitrate at 29 fps. Audio was MPEG2/4 160kbps in stereo. According to my local video editor the codec was H.264/AVC so that seems to be a serious limitation. They tell you to prepare ads in H.264 but can’t handle AVC? When I posed the question “The service does not support H.2264/AVC?” the response was “yes”.
Dovie.tv looked into why my video failed and they said this:
There was a problem passing off the encoding job after uploading the file named SP_Trailer01_Eng_ESRBRP_PSN+XBLA_01_hiQ.mov, which resulted in a failure to encode the video. This was due to the ‘+’ sign in the file being interpreted as a space by the encoding server, so it could not find the file
Alright, so apparently their service can’t manage spaces, hyphens or plus signs. I don’t really understand all the limitations on file names, they should be able to just rename the files when they get uploaded shouldn’t they? On my side of things, I don’t care what the file name is after I upload it as long as I can find the video by all the meta data that I have attached to it including title. So if you are aggregating and uploading a mass of videos (like a news agency or video game site might) you would have to go through and hand edit all the file names prior to uploading, something I think any upload service should be able to manage in the background.
Dovie.tv Embedding and Display
The service offers you three sizes of embed with widths of 512, 640 and 768 pixels in width. You can of course edit this in the embed code when you place it. However, no matter the size of the embed, the preview image will not be scaled to fit the player (lame!). The playlist is offered in three variations, Simple, Accordion and Accordion with columns, the only really useful one is the first as the second and third require users to actually click on them as they are just a bar with a channel name based on the video information to see a list of the videos. If you look to the left you can see an example, the “video game”text is actually the rather uninteresting link to expand the video list. You can assign two Channels A and B (not for version testing) to them then you can assign a primary group to each embed. That is true, but, check out this embed code:
<link id="dovie_embed_css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://partners.dovie.tv/css/dovie-theme.css?embed_type=simple_list" media="screen" />
You can clearly see that it hard codes the playlist style, primary grouping, width, height, share ability and autoplay all right into the embed. The only thing that you can really edit seems to be the content of the channel. So if you decide you want to change some of these variables, you would need to go in and edit all of your embeds, just like any other player.
Finally, it doesn’t play through the playlist. It only plays the first video when you click play and then it repeats that same video. Isn’t the point of a playlist just that, to play the list of files? There’s not even an option to stop it from looping that I could find. Oddly, if you click on any video other than the first it goes on to play the rest but then gets stuck and loops on the first again.
Remember I was talking about the plus symbol in the video name. Well according to the server, that particular video is processing but also shows that it’s ready. I was able to include it in a channel. What happened when I clicked on it to view it? I got this error message:
200, Stream not found, NetStream.Play.StreamNotFound, clip: ‘ ‘amazons3/azaa-vod/10093/2763/SP_Trailer01_Eng_ESRBRP_PSN-XBLA_01_hiQ-1024.flv”
Aha, Amazon S3 is obviously their CDN of choice. Why the service let me include a video in the channel when it is still ‘processing’ is beyond me. Especially when they tout the service as being instantly updated when you add videos to a channel.
Advertising in the Dovie.tv Player
The advertising is pretty limited as well. For an video overlay it must be 468×60, PNG and the same restrictions on the filename as mentioned earlier. So really it only allows for horizontal banners and not even 300×250 ad size. I, of course, decided to do some testing and the results can be seen in the image to the right.
I feel I really need to show you what happens if you upload an image larger than the ad display size. See the images below for the original and what it turned out to look like in the player. They really do mean, only a banner of 468×60, nothing more and nothing less.
There are three types of ads you can display, video, graphic overlay and text overlay. The text overlay is always 468×60 no matter how much text you type and just disappears when it hits the end or so it seems.
Also, there’s no guarantee when or if an ad will show up. Even though I had three ads setup to display on my two videos, one with a high and the other with a very low priority, they showed up almost uniformly, when they showed up at all.
Also if you edit an ad the entire player must be refreshed to see the new ad content at least that’s what it appeared like to me. Ad targeting is currently non-functional from what I saw. There’s also no way to tell the system when to run the ad, as in pre/mid/post-roll. All you can do is tell the system which videos to target with your ads.
If I were an advertiser, I would look elsewhere. This system seems like it’s set up on the honor system because there is no reporting of ad displays, clicks, CTR or anything else.
Measuring the Flight Path of your Videos
The service also offers what look to be basic analytics including overall sessions, plays, bitrate engagement, conversion and view time for your whole account. Of course, engagement is just an average of all of the viewing times for a video, in a percentage form. It doesn’t look like they maintain channel-level analytics and really I think InPlay has a better grip on analytics all around. They don’t seem to do any interaction tracking nor do they do any sort of demographics or geo-location tracking so you’d have to depend on some other service for that. There’s also no stream quality which is something I see in the TubeMogul InPlay analytics. Of course, there seems be to no errors on all of the streams it’s tracking there which I find shocking.
Now I did a bunch of testing and tried to get some stats out of the system. It seems that stats are only updated on a daily basis. So if you’re looking for real-time stats or even more timely than every 24 hours you’re out of luck. When I attempted to make the date range for stats include the current day, it reverted to the range which only went to the day before. This tells me that stats are only processed once a day and that’s on the day after the activity.
Also there’s no breakdown of data. You get overall stats for everything together, and you get stats for individual videos. There are no channel specific stats whatsoever and the stats in general are fairly lackluster which shows that Dovie.tv has no real concept of what video metrics and analytics need. Individual video stats include plays, engagement (% watched), total viewing time (a fairly useless stat to me), average view time, bitrate and percentage watched (with number of times). There’s nothing about platform, browser, channels, demographics, or anything of any real substance in these. I would suggest using InPlay, but I doubt they plug into this player.
Wing Tips and Horsefeathers
Tips for uploading an ad to Dovie:
- File name may not include any spaces or dashes (also no plus signs and probably any symbol in general)
- Quicktime (.mov) file format
- Dimensions of 1024×576 (what an odd dimension)
- h.264 codec (not AVC apparently)
- Constant bitrate (2-4 Mbps)
- No Flash wrapper
- No fast web streaming setting
Dovie can also accept .mp4, .wmv and .flv files, and we will do our best to encode them. However, we can’t guarantee that we can encode every file. (could not find .wmv or .avi on my drive when browsed for files)
Crash & Burn Baby!
Overall, for a beta, I am extremely underwhelmed by what Dovie has and doesn’t have to offer. There are more Bugs here than a Looney Tunes marathon on Boomerang! It certainly seems closer to alpha testing than it does to beta testing. The entire site is built on JQuery which is fine but there are many things that seem to be missing, like confirmation when you update information. If you try to put in a date range for Ads you’ll break the entire page and have to hit your back button to get back to a usable one. These guys really need to rethink their flight plan and go back into the hangar and figure out what it is they are hoping to achieve. The service in its current state can’t even get itself off the ground let alone jump a puddle. The site itself has the feeling of a completely generic CMS that had some CSS and images thrown in and is being run by people new to online video. It might be in their best interest to fold up their wings and bury themselves in reworking as much of the system as they can and hopefully along the way they’ll find the focus of it and make it something special. If they don’t, dare I say, they might just continue to look like a fly-by-night organization.