by Christopher Butler on in uncategorized

What’s on the Agenda?

This month, I’d like to look at what has changed about online video, examine some of the capabilities that are available to you, and consider some of the reasons that video should be part of your content strategy.

The internet is the new TV (don’t you just love statements like that?). Chances are, you are probably so immersed in it that you haven’t even noticed how radically video has changed the internet, not to mention your own viewing habits. Think about it: there is very little in the way of television programming that you can’t access online within hours of its initial broadcast! Network websites and Hulu.com deliver many popular television programs officially, but there’s no shortage of television programming captured by viewers and uploaded to YouTube, provided you’re willing to watch it in shorter segments at lower quality.

A recent Integrated Media Measurement survey showed that, in the last year, 5% of former television viewers have already switched to watching programs online, both as they become available and at a later point after initial broadcast. This figure is not even taking into account all of the user-generated video content being watched online (the number of videos on YouTube has been estimated at over 80,000,000). Whatever that number actually is, it’s a lot. Meanwhile, Wired has reported that viewing on all three “screens” (tv, internet, and mobile devices) has generally increased over the past year, with the average amount of television watched increasing to 8 hours and 18 minutes a day. This is the highest average ever! These statistics show that internet video is on the rise, but they also suggest that the more video is watched online, the more it’s watched everywhere. Anyone interested in seeing some correlating numbers on reading?

Recently, the New York Times Magazine featured an entire issue on ‘screens’. I think it’s a must-read for anyone working in advertising or marketing. Here’s a choice quote from Benjamin Palmer, CEO of the Barbarian Group:

“What the proliferation of screens has done is give a bazillion creators the power to publish. There are now billions of hours of content, which means new places for advertisers to latch on to — lots of content that pockets of people find interesting. But the shift you’re describing makes things more complicated for advertisers too. When the TV networks held the reins for content, all advertising had to do was buy into the public consciousness of entertainment, which was television.”


So What?

What this “shift” means is that companies cannot simply buy in to the public consciousness anymore. They must create in to it now by allowing their products, services or processes to exist transparently online. Video is probably one of the most direct ways of doing this, as it is a format that lends itself easily to customer testimonials, product demos, personal introductions, commentary, event coverage, etc. Really, when it comes to video, options abound.

All of this is really just a little background, which I hope provides some context for what I have to say about online video. The subject of video in general is obviously just too big to cover in our newsletter, so for now, let’s just say that the influence of online video is growing too rapidly to be ignored by anyone. Video can be leveraged by businesses now more easily than ever before. Next, I’d like to review some examples of how video is being used among our clients’ websites, as well as those of some other companies.

Custom Solutions

Many of our existing clients are starting to include video in their content strategy. Assuming they have some internal process for creating the videos themselves, getting them on their website is actually pretty simple. What we typically recommend is first converting them into Flash Video format (.flv). This way, the videos can be stored in a central location in the database and then matched to a Flash Video player file on any page template as they are needed. Using this approach, all kinds of creative opportunities become available in terms of how the videos appear on the page because the player itself can be “skinned” to fit the look and feel of the website. Below are several examples of how we’ve done this in some recent projects:

Using Existing Tools

Many of our clients are also starting to explore using free tools like YouTube, Vimeo or Viddler to embed videos on to their website. This is a great place to start with video since these services make uploading and embedding your video content so easy and inexpensive to do. Strategically, there are other advantages to using this approach as well. First, by using a third party to host and deliver your video, you don’t need to worry about using extra bandwidth on your website. If you expect many viewers to access your video content, or if you have longer videos to display, this might be a serious consideration. Additionally, setting up a YouTube, Vimeo, or Viddler account allows you to have a profile on these websites where your videos can be viewed, tagged, shared, or commented on. Viddler even allows you to add comments to the timeline of your video, so that they will visually appear an the point of your choosing. Having an outpost like these will help your video to be seen by more people and perhaps drive more traffic to your website. Below are several examples of some of our clients who have taken this approach:

Other Creative Implementations

I also wanted to point out a few other sites that use video in helpful ways. These are not sites that we built, but are great examples of how video can be featured from a variety of sources but integrated in to the overall user experience of the website on which they are embedded.

Evaluating Cost

Until recently, video as a content strategy probably hasn’t seemed like the best investment for many businesses for some pretty good reasons. First, producing a video can be very expensive and time consuming. You’ve got to assemble a creative team and equipment, come up with a good idea, shoot the thing, edit it, format it for online use, and then figure out how to get the file on your website. Of course, this isn’t all necessarily true anymore. While creating a broadcast-quality promotional video still might require all of that investment, creating a casual but effective video on the fly can be done very simply. In fact, I’ve noticed that many casual and lo-fi videos appeal to people online because they just seem more authentic.


Second, tracking video hasn’t always been the most straighforward thing to do. Sure, you could easily track how many visitors came to the page on which the video was embedded, but aside from building some custom tracker or guessing based upon the page’s bounce rate, actually evaluating the video’s performance was pretty difficult. Today, that’s no longer the case. Google has added some really powerful tools to Google Analytics, among them being a video event tracker. Using this functionality in combination with a custom video player on your site, you could now potentially determine when viewers stopped watching a video, and where they went afterward, with much greater precision.


Lastly, video files themselves have not always had much positive impact on search engine optimization. Because the content itself couldn’t be indexed, most sites might have been better off using text to communicate what the video attempted to, provided that was even possible. However, now that there are so many popular platforms on which to support your video (YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, etc.), they have value as promotional outposts for your company. Putting your video content on any of these sites will increase your visibility, allow for user comments and interaction, and potentially drive more traffic to your site.


I expect to see much more video in the near future, and so should you. As I reflect upon the past few months, I can’t think of a day on which I didn’t receive a video message on Facebook, video chat with a coworker, family member or friend, talk about video with a client, or see a video related to my industry online.

If you think about it, it really makes sense that video would become so prevalent so quickly. You can absorb so much more information, more quickly, from a video than from a paragraph of text. This doesn’t mean that video is always going to be the best choice of media, but it does mean that it’s going to be used more and more frequently. Believe me, I cherish language and the written word and have plenty of paranoid dystopian reservations about the influence of technology on society, but I’m accepting the shift nonetheless. Eventually, the ubiquity of words on the internet will almost certainly be eclipsed by video, so now is the time to get on board.

– CB

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Because this newsletter has been all about video, I also wanted to include a few videos made by the Newfangled crew:

From Mark O’Brien

From Able Parris

A Brief Explanation of What I Do All Day from able parris on Vimeo.

From Steve Grothmann (he’s the bassist)

  • https://www.newfangled.com/chris_butler_blog Christopher Butler

    I forgot to link to the LinkedIn question I asked this month about video. I asked What are some examples of cutting-edge use of video on the web (preferably in a business-to-business context)? and received some good answers and links in response.

  • http://www.webpressservice.com Rich Peterson

    I just watched this video twice…..why didn’t the “views” # change from 122 to 123 times? Is that info an extra cost to subscribe to?
    I need some help with getting a link to testimonials from http://www.SUPERPAGES.com to my website homepage.
    Also, how about a similiar narrative by me about a technical aspect or repair on my homepage?
    What about a monthly service special offering?

  • https://www.newfangled.com/chris_butler_blog Christopher Butler


    The number of views has definitely increased since you watched the video (it’s now at 135). I’m pretty sure that the view count would be available to any user since the video was created with a free account.

    As for your other questions, perhaps you could clarify?


  • https://www.newfangled.com/the_findings_of_able_parris Able

    Chris, I just noticed Gary Vaynerchuck posted some thoughts yesterday on owning your own TV. Here’s the link:


    It will be interesting to see how creative people get with video. There are a lot of possibilities for it!

  • Martin
  • Tim Danyo

    I noticed that the composition in this video is off. Too much head room. There are reflections of the monitor in your glasses- very distracting. The lighting is dull and flat and blueish- not very appealing. This looks like home video and not professional quality. Why would a professional company portray it’s image as low quality? Why have a killer website and then throw home video on there?

    This may be coming across as harsh, but these things are important. Sure, free do it yourself, video production is tempting and so is free, do it yourself, web development. Remember, you get what you pay for or don’t pay for.

    As a professional video producer I see potential pitfalls for folks wanting to do their own video and wanting it to look professional. As online video grows with popularity quality video will be what really stands out. The majority of video online is already poor in quality (home video (ish) stuff.

  • https://www.newfangled.com/mark_o_brien_blog Mark O’Brien


    These are certainly valid points you’ve raised, and we thank you for them.

    You’ll notice that the examples cited in the article include both professionally produced videos and informal videos. We feel that there are appropriate uses for both.

    Our perspective is that it is far better to have informal videos on a site that feature strong content than have no videos at all due to not being able to afford shooting them professionally. The dissemination of content is the ultimate goal here and home grown video can be educational, endearing and effective.

    The democratization of video has been a positive social event. It is true that the quality bar has been lowered by sites like YouTube.com specifically, but as a result, we have millions of hours of important niche content that would have been impossible otherwise. That is not to say that companies like yours don’t still occupy a very important and necessary space, of course.

  • https://www.newfangled.com/chris_butler_blog Christopher Butler


    I intentionally hit on your point several times in this newsletter:

    “Granted, the quality doesn’t compare to what Eric achieved with our other videos, but that’s ok- this video is meant to be a bit more lo-fi.”


    “While creating a broadcast-quality promotional video still might require all of that investment, creating a casual but effective video on the fly can be done very simply. In fact, I’ve noticed that many casual and lo-fi videos appeal to people online because they just seem more authentic.”

    So, the point is that the state of this video’s quality was intended to be low. Notice that the majority of the video examples I show on page 3 are not like this at all, nor are the videos on our homepage. There is a place for high-quality produced videos, just as there is for quick, lower-quality videos like the one I started out with. Sometimes a video with a great concept or simple message doesn’t need a whole lot of finish. Period.

    I actually have my BFA in Film/Animation/Video from the Rhode Island School of Design, so I’m well aware of the skills that you probably have and their value. I’m not at all advocating that Viddler and Vimeo should put you out of work!

    Thanks for reading, and for your comment.

  • Tim Danyo

    I appreciate your response. (your site is pretty nice by the way) I agree that online video has opened up a huge opportunity for content producers and folks wanting to get out their message with little cost. Informal video has it’s place and can be effective to give a personal touch, but it can also come across as sloppy and cheap. It’s always important to stress the importance of promoting a positive image. For example, clip art on a brochure or designing your own logo, as opposed to hiring a professional. That is what I’m saying.

    I think the initial response has been “hey, we can do our online videos for free, who needs a professional to produce this stuff,” but folks will realize that it is harder than it looks to do quality video work and will end up hiring a professional to produce the video or fix what they massed up. As more and more people jump into online video there will need to be a separation between amateur and pro video online. I am not worried.

  • Tim Danyo

    Sorry guys….

    I needed to read on a little bit. I rushed to respond. Your right! Must be my protective instincts kicking in :) Thanks for responding though!

  • https://www.newfangled.com/chris_butler_blog Christopher Butler


    No problem. What is your company’s website?


  • https://www.newfangled.com/the_findings_of_able_parris Able

    Chris, I’ve taken your lead, and made my first video-blog entry!

  • https://www.newfangled.com/chris_butler_blog Christopher Butler

    Erik Olsen over at Viget Labs just posted a great article on 6 Things to Know about Video for the Web. Check it out.

  • Dandelion

    Thanks for this article! It looks like a really useful introduction to using video on the web. Not only is this the best article I could find, but it is also the most recent. Yet it is 2 years old. Would you say that all the information here is still current? Things on the web seem to change so fast. Are there new issues to consider?


By Christopher Butler

Chris Butler is the COO of Newfangled. He writes and speaks often on design and the web. You can follow him @chrbutler. More by Christopher Butler