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Embedding YouTube just doesn’t cut it.
Of the tips I’ve given thus far, this is probably the most difficult to accomplish. Bandwidth and time work against you when you try to provide more than one or two options for your viewers. But it makes the experience much better, and far more accessible.
Attention spans don’t allow people to only focus on one thing at a time. You’re listening to music right now, aren’t you? The TV might even be on in the background.
We feel weird if we’re not listening to music while we’re online. We feel weird when there’s not something on the TV in the background. I’ve been trying to cut down on my TV watching (down to only about 1.5 hours a day), so having the TV screen black beside me makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t want to watch anything, but I want there to be something to watch.
When you only provide a YouTube embed for your video podcast, you’re forcing people to focus solely on it. It becomes difficult to have it running in the background while you’re trying to do other things. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that if you have a video podcast, most of the your audience is using Firefox. Or, at the very least, they’re probably not running IE6. They’re used to having tabs. They don’t like having multiple browser windows open. Which means they can’t comfortably be reading websites while they’re watching your video podcast.
They need to be able to download it and watch it in their own media player.
As I said before, this causes problems for you, the producer, because you’ll have to spend time transcoding and you’ll have to spend money on bandwidth.
Providing an iTunes feed is a great start, but not everybody has iTunes and not everybody runs Windows or owns a Mac. But, at the very, very least, you should be publishing it to iTunes.
To see a great example of providing multiple formats, check out Rocketboom’s list of options for the viewer.
Revision3 offers, along with their embedded Flash player, multiple Quicktime, WMV, and Xvid encodes.
Part 2 will have helpful tips about how to provide options like these for your viewers.
Vimeo have launched version five of their people-driven video sharing tool. The site, owned by Connected Ventures (and through a few levels, IAC), was originally created by Jakob Lodwick as a resource for sharing his short videos with friends and family. The idea grew, but the mission stayed the same – make it easy to share video you create with people you trust.
The changes are obvious with the new home page, which distinctly lays out options to register or log in, clips that the Vimeo staff features, stuff that you have brought to Vimeo, and a new area, “Vimeo Obsessions”, an area where, presumably, the Vimeo staff finds the latest trends and links to a short video that fits the trend. I’ve seen the “Five Vignettes” meme and the “LibDub” trend both displayed in the Obsessions area.
The video player is new as well, featuring a more boxy and cleaner layout. It feels faster and more intuitive than the previous player, which was sometimes a bit tough to control. The color has also switched away from a red/green to blue, part of Vimeo’s extensive redesign. No stone was left unturned!
Jakob Lodwick, Vimeo’s founder, has been very vocal in his stance against the increased influence that YouTube’s traditional media partners have on the network’s organisation and structure. In a post to his tumblog (which was extracted from an instant message which was a copy/paste from an email) he writes:
YouTube is oscillating between the chaos of automatic, popularity-based rankings and the stability of old-school, owner-controlled editorial. Both are lame and you can see the miserable effects of either in every media outlet that exists today. I would bet everything I own on a third alternative: user-controlled editorial.
Lodwick’s point is confidently prescient, but it makes sense. We are in an era of user generated content – who is to say that the users cannot decide what content is showcased? Vimeo is making efforts to ensure that the community defines the community; they do not want this to be another stop on the marketing tour. Everything about the site puts the community at the forefront, even the ads are Amazon affiliate ads specially designed by Vimeo to fit nicely into the interface.
Will this new release be enough to convince YouTube users to make the switch? Time will tell, but I think initial prospects are incredibly promising. Vimeo not only has a great product, but a visionary path (unique in this world of a million YouTubes, Google Videos, Metacafes, etc.). Hopefully this vision can carry it to success.
Check out Vimeo version five by visiting http://vimeo.com/
John Battelle (founder of Federated Media) recently posted a very accurate and somewhat scathing rant about YouTube’s deals with content creators at his website, Searchblog. The author of the rant (it isn’t Batelle, he posted it anonymously) addresses a sort of hierarchy in content on YouTube:
Right now YouTube has a three tiered system, the top, or big media, the middle, indie content creators with audiences, and the bottom, random user submissions that get small numbers of views.
A system like this is inevitable: people group by nature, so something like this should be expected. However our ranter doesn’t like the groups that YouTube chooses to support:
And the big question for everyone was how are you going to make money? Well, we certainly were not making any green from YouTube. And until the last three months, they weren’t publicly promising any cash to anyone. So what were we supposed to do? Just pray really hard that YouTube would someday pay us? That’s sorta irresponsible. So we did what anyone would do, we started evaluating the opportunities that presented themselves and then took advantage of some of them.
Many video creators like Ze Frank and Amanda Congdon use alternate hosts for this very reason – no guarantee of financial success. Ze pioneered a micro-sponsorship system called Gimme Some Candy (which he should have spun off, more on that later) to help fund his blog, along with using the post-roll ad based Revver to host his videos. The video creators in the rant (I won’t divulge names, but I have a darn good idea of who they are) have taken a similar route. In fact, they now say
…when YouTube finally got its act together and offered us an advertising split, it was too low an offer. We were doing better without them. And with less strings.
There are plenty of alternatives to YouTube. I noted Revver above, but there are dozens of other video sites available. (I’ll start compiling them tonight, further details as I get them.) You can also host yourself, and we briefly covered this in this YouMakeMedia article. You can’t just drop out of YouTube, unfortunately. It has a massive reach. But you can alter your content. Post thirty second teasers, or short clips of your videos. Maybe even dual post – have video on YouTube for that crowd and video on your website from another source, or vice versa.
YouTube has helped new media in unparalleled ways – that is undisputable. Unfortunately, they have taken way too long to help content creators monetise, further impacting their chance of staying in the game for the long term. As I see it, YouTube is a bridge to more sustainable video sharing tools unless they make some rapid changes in their policy and technology.
Our sister site GizBuzz reported today that Viacom will be hosting and allowing embeds themselves, sidestepping YouTube’s increasingly important role in the distribution of online video.
I thought this would be a good time to outline some advantages and disadvantages to hosting remotely and hosting yourself.
|Metrics||Hosting yourself allows you a broad range of possibilities for capturing where your viewers come from. You can track individual hits on the file downloads and use GeoIP tools to figure out what markets your viewers come from.||Video sharing sites provide one metric – view counts. Theoretically, you could embed your video on a page at your site and use a statistics package such as Google Analytics to track all views of that page, however if someone clicks through to the video’s page you lose that viewer’s information.|
|Price||Hosting yourself isn’t cheap. Aside from paying the standard space and bandwidth fees, you’ll also have to have some extra cash on hand in case your video goes viral. If you hit “Evolution of Dance” levels, pay up!||Free!|
|Audience||When you host, it is harder to get to people. You can – and if you do it is better for you because you can more easily know who these people are. The problem is, however – people may not know about your site.||YouTube and its posse, on the other hand, have huge numbers of crazy folks from around the world who spend their days and nights entering random search terms and watching whatever they find. Much easier to target.|
What’s best? It depends on what you want – and who you are. Smaller producers may find luck with YouTube, Vimeo, and co., however if you have a respectable ranking at Google and a high hit count, you will probably enjoy the increased control you gain through self-hosting.
Wired Magazine has a fantastic article giving an excellent update on the LonelyGirl15 tale.
Over the past few months, LonelyGirl15 has changed from a simple “stepping stone” into Hollywood to a full-fledged international serial thriller. The story has taken on a darker theme, and it’s exciting to see this new medium fall into place. The article offers a new look at the conception of the series and gives us a look at why things are going how they are.
It’s amazing to see how the internet has so drastically changed entertainment – things are so much more interactive than they used to be. Users can simply suggest where they think the plot is going, and amazingly, the writers accommodate it. Even the sheer number of page views that they experienced moved LonelyGirl15 from a future film to a permanent web institution.
I’m definitely following LonelyGirl and its creators. This is a new media experiment that’s doing quite well for itself.