By Jayson Dubin
Digital video is on the rise with no signs of slowing down. According to eMarketer, not only are viewers spending more time with digital video than ever before, but 2015 also marked the first in which people spent more time with digital video than they did with social media, while time spent watching traditional television has been steadily decreasing since 2012. Not surprisingly, Millennials are at the forefront of this trend, spending more time consuming media content on their mobile devices than any other demographic.
In order to reach the increasing amount of “cord-cutting” consumers, or viewers who are opting for digital video as their preferred consumption method instead of cable TV, online publishers need to implement a video strategy in order to stay competitive in today’s changing media landscape. However, many midsize publishers may not know where to begin or may think that YouTube is sufficient, which is not the case when it comes to monetization and the viewer experience.
When implementing a video strategy, publishers should keep the following elements in mind to ensure an optimal viewer experience:
1. Opt for an HTML5 video player rather than Flash.
The debate between HTML5 versus Flash has been center stage as Flash continues its slow death march toward the cemetery of dead technology. Not only has Adobe Flash suffered numerous security vulnerabilities recently, but it also can’t play on mobile devices. With more and more users navigating the web and online video via their smartphone, it’s imperative that a publisher’s site and content are mobile-responsive. Publishers should keep optimal user experience in mind and embrace HTML5 as the wave of the future.
2. Thoroughly understand monetization and advertising options.
When many small to midsize publishers think video monetization, they automatically think YouTube. However, there are other video player options that offer publishers better monetization options. Furthermore, as online video consumption patterns begin to more closely mirror viewing patterns of traditional television, advertising must adapt accordingly. In other words, pre-roll ads at the start of videos are not the only option. Many publishers may want to opt for a solution that provides viewers with a more relevant, seamless experience.
Smart publishers should do their homework to make sure video players are making the most of content in terms of both monetization and viewer experience. Specifically, this entails finding a video platform that can handle many sites and publishers in a single interface. On the demand side, a video player needs to not only be able to run many types of ad units — overlays, mid-roll, and pre-roll — but also be intuitive enough to distinguish between them to provide the most relevant user experience.
3. Make sure the video player doesn’t get in the way of the content.
A site’s video player needs to feel intuitive to users. It should be there when they need it to be, and disappear when they aren’t interacting with it. Most importantly, it shouldn’t get in the way of the content, video or otherwise, when navigating the site.
4. Use design to enhance viewer experience.
There are several design and UX tactics publishers can employ in order to ensure the best viewer experience possible. The player should feature clean, animated icons and transparencies to simplify the viewing experience. Publishers should also attempt to customize the video player, in terms of color, look, feel and branding in order to provide a seamless, end-to-end brand experience that feels like an organic extension of other content on the site.
5. Use purpose-build players for shareability.
Video is one of the most shareable forms of content, and it is predicted that, by 2017, video will account for 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic. As the market for online video continues to grow, publishers need to implement players that have been purposely built with shareability in mind. Viewers must be able to easily share content through multiple channels with the click of a button. With attention spans shrinking, people are not going to spend more than a few seconds trying to figure out how to share video content before moving on to a different site, resulting in lost opportunities for the publisher.
6. Video players must be omni-channel.
Mobile video consumption is on the rise. According to a study from the IAB, 35 percent of viewers globally are watching more video on their smartphones compared to last year, and over 30 percent of viewers are watching mobile video content that lasts five minutes or longer. This represents a huge opportunity for publishers to remain “sticky” with consumers. Video players must be able to support content across devices, wherever viewers are — on both desktop and mobile devices.
Online video is a non-negotiable for publishers who want to remain competitive, and as the space continues to grow, YouTube is most often not the best option for mid-sized publishers looking for a piece of the pie. By keeping in mind the above elements when implementing an online video player, publishers can be sure they’re providing an optimal viewer experience that will ultimately drive more eyeballs and, as a result, dollars to the bottom line.
Jayson Dubin is the CEO and founder of Playwire. He oversees Playwire.com, a video content monetization platform, as well as its parent company Playwire Media, which is ranked by comScore as the top digital outlet for reaching video game and entertainment enthusiasts online.