A vendor may want to use training videos for marketing purposes in addition to training customers on how to use their products. Therefore it may make sense to gain as much public exposure as possible. On the other hand, a biotech company may use videos to train their in-house staff on proprietary techniques and procedures. Privacy may be an important consideration for these types of training videos.
Privacy may also be an issue for a vendor’s sales training videos meant for in-house use only. Many companies keep certain training videos private while making their product videos available to the public. This article discusses video hosting options for your public and private training videos.
First, let’s review what it means to encode a video for the web and why encoding is so important.
Original clips and edited video files are among the largest files in existence. They quickly fill up hard drives, take a long time to copy, and are difficult to transmit over the Internet. Encoding videos for the web is the process of compressing the huge video source files to highly compact files that are commonly 4% or less of their original size! This makes them web-friendly.
Encoding videos is a highly technical process and should be done in a manner that the compressed files retain sufficient quality while fitting the bandwidth and capabilities of the hosting service plan and a wide range of end-users’ computers and Internet access speeds.
High quality encoding is both an art and a science. It requires specialized software, fast computers, and skill to achieve good results. The alphabet soup of file extensions and names for modern encoded video files include *.flv, *.f4v, *.wmv, *.mov, *h.264, 1080i, 1080p, 720p, SD, HD, HDV, and AVCHD. Circumstances determine the best file types and compression settings for the desired distribution methods and target audiences. One way to reduce the technical hurdles around encoding is to use video sharing services and/or hire a professional.
Free Web Video Distribution Options
Videos can be hosted on your company’s web site for minimal or no additional cost; or on video sharing services such as YouTube, Vimeo, ExposureRoom, iTunes, and Blip.tv for free. Some of the free video sharing sites also offer premium fee-based services that deliver higher quality videos that have no advertising associated with your video.
Most video sharing sites allow you to host the video on their servers and embed the video’s html code required to play back the video into your company’s web site. Although the video is actually playing off the hosting company’s servers, it appears to be playing off your company’s web site. The host companies will do most of the encoding for your videos so that they play smoothly over the web.
Public Distribution with YouTube
YouTube is definitely worth considering for public distribution of web videos! YouTube uses very sophisticated proprietary software to do the encoding for you and provides the end-user with a variety of quality options. Viewers with slow Internet connections and/or older computers can still play a lower quality (smaller file size) version of the video.
A possible disadvantage with YouTube for some companies is that at the end of playing the video embedded on your web site, links to a number of other videos with similar key-words and descriptions may be displayed within the player. It is possible that a link to a competitor’s video may show up on your site. Conversely, a link to your video may show up on a competitor’s site!
Private Distribution on Your Company’s Network
A good option for sharing videos securely with a limited number of pre-defined viewers is to host a password protected version of the training video in a secure area of your company’s network. For this purpose, typically the video is encoded to play in the Adobe Flash video player which is present on almost all desktop and laptop computers. These training videos can be easily integrated into a company’s on-line training programs and associated with knowledge assessment modules. For many companies, this is an excellent way to efficiently standardize and periodically update procedures throughout multiple locations.
Fee-based Video Distribution Options
Search the web for “video hosting companies” and you will find a variety of companies that provide premium fee-based video sharing services. Premium features typically include higher quality playback, custom players, better privacy options, no advertising, and better analytics for a monthly fee. Such fee-based companies include Brightcove, Playstream and Onstreammedia. Typically, services start at around $100 per month depending upon the number and size of videos and the amount of bandwidth consumed by the viewers. Often, you can try the service free for a limited period of time.
Before hiring an outside service to host your private videos, I recommend first uploading videos, encoded for the Flash player, to your company’s network and see how well they play. Depending on the available bandwidth and speed of your servers, high quality video playback may require some experimentation to determine the best encoding settings for videos hosted on your company’s network.
In the modern world, product and training videos are becoming necessary for businesses to remain competitive—especially during tough economic times. Once the initial investment is made to create quality videos, cost savings in message distribution via the web can be huge compared to traditional advertising methods. The use of web training videos can augment, and in some cases replace, the time and travel costs associated with traditional face-to-face classes. Customers appreciate watching a web video about products they intend to purchase.
Costs for maintaining videos on the web range from free to minimal. There are many private and public video hosting services available to suit a variety of budgets. As time marches on, we will see an ever-growing number of people who expect to receive the product and training information they seek to be delivered at their convenience via web videos.
Video for Smart Phones
The technological landscape for viewing web videos is rapidly changing. One of the areas of fastest growth is the ability to view videos on Smart Phones. How to make your company’s videos be accessible with Smart Phones will be discussed in a future article.