One of the challenges in using video content as part of your online marketing strategy has been with regards to what video format to use.
Today, it ultimately comes down to two choices: Adobe’s Flash format, or Apple’s QuickTime. Both have their pros and cons, but the main ‘con’ for both formats is that the PC that you’re using needs to have a bit of software installed, otherwise you won’t be able to watch the video.
Any modern PC that you buy today already has both Flash and QuickTime installed. If you’re unsure, it’s easy to find out if your machine is online video-ready. If you can watch a YouTube video, then Flash is already in there. If you use iTunes, then since QuickTime is part of the install, you’re good to go as well.
But what about mobile devices?
I’ve written about the phenomenal growth in the use of mobile devices to access online content before. Based on the growth numbers, it would seem that any video-based online campaign simply has to take into account mobile device access. While optimizing content for mobile devices is a little different than for PCs, by far the biggest issue is support for Flash.
Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch cannot display Flash content at all (YouTube videos only work because Apple convinced them to re-render their entire repository into an Apple device-friendly format, but any Flash objects in a website won’t display.) The new Palm devices (Pre and Pixi) and the various Android devices are set to get Flash later this year, while Windows Mobile and Symbian users have a cut-down version of Flash available right now.
So, do you go for QuickTime to satisfy the Apple users, or use Flash to cover just about everyone else but exclude Apple users?
Thankfully, we may just be on the brink of not having to make that decision. Last week video site Vimeo announced that they have finished implementing what may be the perfect solution for online video accessed from mobile devices. When you upload your content to the site, you have an option for Vimeo to simultaneously create mobile device-friendly versions. From then on, Vimeo automatically offers up the best version of your content depending on the nature of the device requesting access. Brilliant!
Vimeo is a place to share creative work, and is definitely not a place where you would upload videos that are commercial in nature (you risk getting banned from the site if you do). But you can bet that the other video platforms such as YouTube and DailyMotion will soon follow suit, meaning that the goal of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ format for online video may finally be within reach.