Until recently, the most advanced communication technology used offline was still too far ahead of the Internet infrastructure to cross over to wide scale Web use. That is beginning to change, video will test every online business’ understanding and application of multi-media technologies on the web.
The power of video to increase response rates (by up to 30%) and boost message retention rates (by up to 300%) was proven both scientifically and at the cash registers decades ago. Yet only a deep-pocketed few can afford to buy time or develop the in-house resources necessary to record and distribute video over television airwaves.
The use of online video will not trickle down from large companies to small as so many
other technology changes have. It’s exploding with consumers who love the time saving, data packed delivery of information and entertainment that television video provides.
“Streaming video will literally change the way business is conducted.”
From the very beginning, developing video to the point where it could be created and distributed simply and economically over the Internet was the goal of several small pockets of developers. Their first tiny, jerky video images were seen across the Internet in 1998. Since then, streaming video sizes, playing smoothness, audio and visual synchronization have all improved steadily.
Only recently has online video begun to be seen as something more than a novelty. It's also moving away from being a hobby that strains even loving family member’s patience with large file sizes that could take hours to download before revealing 15 or 30 second clips of Junior’s first steps, or first attempts at riding a bike.
Ask anyone connected with online or offline video production, what has caused the change and they all point to the rising adoption of broadband connections by an equally fast growing Internet user population. Broadband is also being credited with fueling future growth and revenue forecasts and bringing new major players into the market space to compete for this business.
According to a compilation of studies on the topic, eMarketer states, “No longer is the broadband market merely about high-speed Internet access. The new market, in which cable and telecom companies are competing, also includes voice and video - a market worth nearly ten times the value of the Internet access business alone.”
Streaming video will literally change the way business is conducted. For instance, geography and time become meaningless when an attorney, banker or realtor can send a document to a client through file sharing, watch them sign that document and record and archive that signing.
Geography and time were also why one business elected to begin regular live video broadcasting. With tens of thousands of worldwide distributors, the business knew that they couldn’t keep on supporting each location’s software, firewalls, and individual troubleshooting issues with an IT staff of less than 10 people. They also knew they needed a timely way to broadcast the same message, at the same time, to various locations regardless of the hardware, software or technical expertise on the receiver’s end.
It wasn’t until the quality of transmitted images became sharp enough and the actual process of broadcasting became simple enough for non-technical sales or marketing personnel to operate, that the business began to seriously consider using Web conferencing technologies. Things have changed considerable since they did however. Now, three times a week they show an audience of more than 1,000 distributors the details of the new gemstones they are offering for sale.
Nearly $2 billion was spent on online video in 2004. All but a fraction of those dollars were spent on Web conferencing and broadcast capabilities. More significantly, it’s estimated that nearly $12 billion will be spent on online videos by 2008. Video emails (v-mails), video Instant Messaging and videos posted on websites are among the applications that will fuel this anticipated $10 billion in growth.
Some of the large players, such as national ISPs, named in the eMarketer study, have begun to offer their subscribers limited video email capability. However, it will be the small and medium-sized business and individual consumers who will profit from the videos they will create and distribute using only a webcam, PC and an online subscription service outside their ISP’s umbrella.
The online video opportunity represents for small business is enormous. It means that the lawyer or auto mechanic down the street can now produce their own Internet commercial and post it on their website or in emails.
In a press release announcing that they had sold more than 25 million webcams, Gina Clark, Director of Product Marketing for Logitech's video business unit, is in agrees. Clark asserts that, “Personal video communications are fast-becoming an essential part of the digital experience.”
As further proof of this rapid integration into the fabric of the Web, in May of 2005, Yahoo! announced the release of its video search capability. With it they gave Web searchers the ability to find any video, produced by anyone and housed on any website, including TV shows and movies housed in television station vaults. Yahoo! expects the number of online videos produced this year to increase by over 50% over last year's 14 billion; topping 21 billion videos.
The opportunity this represents for small business is enormous. It means that the lawyer or auto mechanic down the street can now produce their own Internet commercial (webmercial) and post it on their website or in their email. They can then take that same video and use it to help their business be found through a top search engine ranking.