HTML5 Is Better Than Sliced Bread for Online Video Advertising!

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A recent post over at Mediapost talked about how HTML 5 is going to completely rewrite the online video advertising landscape. I beg to differ because I, unlike many, don’t buy into all the hype surrounding everything and I’m too lazy to hop on all the bandwagons rolling by.

Here’s a quote from the Mediapost article titled Forget Everything You Know about Video Advertising:

As demoed recently by Apple’s Steve Jobs, ads on computers are about to undergo significant changes. Everything from tracking to animation will be altered in the process (for the better). Ad agencies & video ad networks will be able to provide real-time, interactive experiences that aren’t limited by plug-ins.

Right, because we have no sort of online video analytics at the moment. I mean, how could we, as an advertising industry, function before the advent of HTML 5 (sense any sarcasm)?

Is MeFeedia in some sort of deal with Apple? I did some Google digging and found a lot of recent article mentioning Apple, coming from the MeFeedia camp. Especially, Apple-focused research almost to the exclusion of other platforms. It seems sort of biased to me, though earlier last month they did say that something like 26% of video they are ‘tracking’ is encoded in H.264 while said 66% (As a side note – it should be mentioned that just because video is encoded to H.264, does not mean that it is available as HTML5 video.) Of course is only talking about the video they get paid for so there’s some difference there as well I would imagine. But then MeFeedia pushed out HTML 5 support back in April so my question is: Does that mean only 26% of video there is viewable in HTML 5?

Frank Sinton, the author of the post and CEO of MeFeedia, says that we’ll now have awesomely cool real-time, in-depth analytics that we apparently don’t have right now. However, Ooyala has had some pretty spiffy real-time stuff going on, without HTML 5 actually, since October in fact. You can actually see when someone clicks play, how much of the video they watch before moving on and more. VMIX on the other hand offers “near real time”analytics. Unicorn media is offering real time via their REST API as well. So it’s not that we don’t have real-time stats at present. He does point out that with it all being in HTML5, it will be easier to tie it all together for “standard web analytics such as funnels and conversion rates.” But with some proper and easy coding this can be achieved as well in many analytics packages. In fact, Brightcove‘s metrics tie into Omniture, Google Analytics, and others.

He talks about how HTML 5 will make it all a seamless experience with no more downloading of clients, plug-ins or “annoying interruptions,” his words not mine. It all sounds like anti-Adobe hype. Sure it’s true you won’t need to download anything, provided you’ve got the proper codec decoders for whatever video you’re wanting to watch. Of course, who doesn’t have Flash or SilverLight installed on their computer at this point? Even I have both on all three of my computers so I’m not really being annoyingly interrupted to watch any sort of video and haven’t been for some time.

A user will be able to watch a video, interact with an ad, buy a product, and then return to the exact spot in the video without interruption.

Image credit: Martin Gee/San Jose Mercury News

I have to admit, I’m getting tired of this whole “X Product will Change the World!” bandwagon that people keep jumping on. First, it was the iPhone (well OK, it did make a big impact) then it was HTML 5, then the iPad, what’s next? Sliced Bread?! Oh wait, we had that one some time back didn’t we? I have two words here – Video Overlays – something that works quite well in many modern Flash-based players, is generally trackable, customizable and seems to be working quite well. Plus, who goes to buy a product and then goes back to the advertisement? Well alright, it might not be an ad that they’re watching but perhaps a video with a product placement in it and…wait a second.

Remember some time back when was all the rage? They were using clickable video overlays to sell shoes online and doing a damned fine job of it. Here’s a quick quote from an article talking about that (pre-HTML 5 Hype days) from

If the viewer mouses over a shoe in a video, it becomes highlighted, alerting the person that the item is clickable. Users are then taken to a product detail page in a separate browser window where the item can be added to a shopping cart.’s media player also allows shoppers to post the videos to their Facebook and Twitter profiles while the clip continues to roll. The 10 product videos currently on the site are each around one minute long.

Huh, imagine that, the video clip keeps rolling which it’s being embedded to their social networking profiles, I mean, that sounds like seamless no?

Here’s something else from talking about Google and YouTube using video overlays for interactivity in quite a successful manner:

InVideo ads are an animated banner format YouTube launched in 2007. They typically appear part way through a selected video and disappear after a number of seconds if the ad is not clicked. The overlays are among Google’s most effective formats, with average click-through rates eight to 10 times higher than normal display ads, the company said.

Earlier this year YouTube even rolled out new templates for animated Flash video overlays.

Now I’m not saying that HTML 5 won’t drastically impact the industry. The sheer number of announcements from companies that are now supporting it, planning on supporting it or trying begin supporting it, one might say it’s already had a massive impact. But there’s also something to be said about the current system, in works. If it didn’t work I don’t think we would have been using it for as long as we have been. Plus, I am the local open source, open standard proponent…in fact I’m a proponent of all sorts of open things…but that’s another matter altogether.

Now I like Adobe, well as much as the next person. I use some of their products and have Flash-based video players on my sites as well. I’m not saying it’s the greatest system in the world, but if it didn’t work, it would have already been replaced? Plus, there’s something to be said for platforms like Silverlight and Flash.

Places like Hulu, who have loads of proprietary content and want to keep it that way, need Digital Rights Management, or their content will by siphoned off of their sites so quickly they wouldn’t know what happened. So, they are sticking with Flash video. That’s not to say I’m a proponent of closed systems, but I am all for being able to make a good amount of money off of one’s work and intellectual property. I mean, you don’t think I write at ReelSEO for free do you? That would just be silly, I too have bills and need food and have a bottom line to look out for.

Sure, HTML 5 is changing the way we look at video online. But until it’s a proven, full-featured and robust replacement for the current system, I see it being used as an additional way to get the content to the viewers and not as a full replacement. In fact, come 2015, we might still not be using it as a full replacement for the majority of online video.

The massive amount of hype around it is good. That’s driving its development and its solidification. But don’t believe everything you read about it. I don’t think it’s the second coming of sliced bread, not yet anyway.


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