Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jeremy Allaire, Brightcove: Reaching Viewers in a Complex and Fragmented Video Landscape

I met with Jeremy Allaire, Chairman and CEO of Brightcove, at the Online Video Platform Summit to get a summary of his keynote address, where he shared his view of the increasingly complex and fragmented landscape for online video publishing, and the multi-platform distribution strategies organizations need to have in place to achieve success with their video initiatives. Allaire founded Brightcove in early 2004 with a vision for the transformation of television with the Internet. From his early days as CTO of Macromedia, where he was instrumental in evolving Macromedia Flash into a dominant platform for rich media applications on the web, Allaire envisioned that one day video would become as ubiquitous as text on the web. I spoke with him at length about his background and the early years of online video in this post from last year.

In his keynote, The New Video Landscape: Multi-platform Distribution, Monetization, and Fragmentation, Allaire described the rapid growth of online video in 2010 with monthly video growing to a staggering 30 billion views. He pointed out that online video is now more than 50% of Internet traffic in the U.S. and it's estimated that it will will grow to 90% by 2013. Some of the key drivers fueling that growth are ad supported online video, which continues to grow faster than any other area of online advertising, and also the brand marketing and retail applications which are really exploding. eMarkerter predicts that online advertising spend will be $28.5 billion next year, and that almost $2 billion of that will be online video advertising.

According to eMarketer's David Hallerman:
"The reason for the huge increase in video ad spending is that brand marketers will shift more of their ad budgets online. Since there is more professional video online than ever before, buyers have more inventory to choose from. Brand marketers realize how central the internet is to consumers’ lives than it was even two years ago. More important, they see how much of that video content is professional, so they trust it and as a FreeWheel study shows, consumers tend to watch video ads to the end when they are up against professional video content."
This is really exciting for the industry, says Allaire, because corporations and institutions are expanding and investing in video as a way to enhance their customer relationships and customer touchpoints. Data from Brightcove & TubeMogul's Online Video & Media Industry Quarterly Research Report for Q2 2010, found that online video is a priority for brand managers and that more than 60 percent plan to spend more their website video initiatives in the next 12 months.

But while consumer demand, growth trends, and broad industry adoption introduce exciting new opportunity, Allaire says the complex and fragmented device landscape is introducing new challenges for online video publishers. In particular, Apple's release of the iPad started the HTML5/H.264 video vs. Flash debate over the future of web content and application runtime formats, which Allaire wrote about earlier in the year in a guest post on TechCrunch.

Allaire says increased bandwidth capacity and demand for higher quality video experiences have required publishers to render multiple versions of their content for multi-bitrate streaming. In addition, there is a tsunami of new connected devices consumers are using to access video which all use a variety of video runtimes creating a fragmented publishing environment.
"We've moved from the world of people publishing video to the PC web with Flash, to needing to have video on tablets and smart phones – both web browsing and native apps, that people do across a lot of different platforms – and the emergence of connected TVs are yet another set of platforms that are going to create these challenges for publishers. And then, the explosion of social media sites as sources of traffic and valuable forms of customer engagement. So really, the world has changed a lot in the last 12 months and that's actually created a huge amount of challenges and a huge amount of opportunities."
Allaire says that the recent release of Brightcove 5, the company's cloud-based online video platform, addresses many of the issues that publishers face in the fragmented landscape and helps expand their reach. The new features include: distribution and synchronization with YouTube, iPad reference app, Apple HTTP streaming for the mobile Web and apps, cross platform Smart Players, new advanced analytics for Adobe® Flash® and HTML5 video developed in partnership with Tubemogul, and wide-ranging productivity enhancements.

In a follow up TechCrunch guest post last week, Allaire further expanded on the outlook for 2011 – which promises to be yet another transformational year in the online video landscape – with connected TVs set to go mainstream, OTT (over-the-top) video adoption, the ongoing battle over video delivery standards, and the rise of social recommendations with Facebook and Twitter growing much faster as sources for online video discovery and referral compared to traditional search engines. According to Tubemogul and Brightcove's Online Video & The Media Industry report for Q3 2010, Facebook is now the second largest traffic source for media sites surpassing Yahoo! The report states that not only are social media destination driving more traffic, but consumers who find video through the recommendation of peers in the social networks are more engaged with the video content then content they find through other sources.

In his keynote, Allaire said that, "Everyone is an online video publisher," and that online video platforms have emerged as critical partners to publishers by creating solutions that help them navigate the complex and fragmented online video landscape.
"I think the really big picture is that we're just at the beginning. Video ubiquity is just emerging and we see a world in the next several years where every professional website in the world is going to have professional video applications, so it's a very exciting time for our company and the industry."