HTML5 continues to grow and gain adoption across the web, as many marketers have discovered the advantage of HTML5 to extend video to a wide range of platforms (as mentioned in my April 22 post, Are You Ready for the New iPad Era with HTML5?). According to TechCrunch, nearly two-thirds of web video is already encoded for HTML5. As HTML5 keeps evolving, many limitations continue to be overcome. One of HTML5’s biggest benefits for marketers is its native video support. HTML5 videos can be built directly into supporting browsers, which enables publishers to deliver full-motion, high-quality video faster. There are also direct video SEO benefits.
HTML5 improves search engines’ understanding of the structure and content of a video and provides greater accessibility. HTML tags like the “section” tag, which enables marketers to explain the topic of page sections, and the “nav” tag, by which a mobile device browser can make a link, help search engines more accurately categorize content and links.
Similarly, simple browser coding makes HTML5 videos more searchable and indexable. At the Google I/O conference on May 19, Google announced it was joining with other web companies in launching webM, an open web media format project, and open-sourced VP8, a high-quality, web-optimized video codec the company will contribute to the project under a royalty-free license.
According to webM, VP8 delivers high-quality video while efficiently adapting to the varying processing and bandwidth conditions found on today’s broad range of web-connected devices. VP8’s efficient bandwidth usage aims to deliver lower servicing costs for content publishers and high-quality video for end users. The codec’s relative simplicity makes it easy to integrate into existing environments and requires less manual tuning to produce high-quality results. These existing attributes and the rapid innovation expected through the open development process make VP8 well suited for the unique requirements of video on the web. With VP8 and other codecs that can be supported by an HTML5 player, marketers can assure their content will be viewable on virtually any platform, from iPads to Smartphone devices to web browsers.
So why should marketers embrace HTML5? A better question might be “why shouldn’t they?” given the many benefits offered by embracing the technology. Let’s consider a couple of advantages demonstrated during the Google I/O conference by Sports Illustrated editor Terry McDonell.
McDonell unveiled a magazine application in development that featured HTML5 video running within a frame of text. The visual capabilities alone are impressive, but the Sports Illustrated project also demonstrates how HTML5 enables more web-friendly graphics and greater interactivity. The video also illustrates how HTML5 video ads can provide a more dynamic user experience.
As McDonell says, “the advertising can be so good in this context that it can become content itself. It can help you evaluate products and when you’ve made your decision, it can help you find the place to buy them,” as seen with the WonderFlex L300. Rich video runs seamlessly with text, which broadens the possibilities for the creativity of “print” ads, combined with the accountability of online media. The format of HTML5 provides instantaneous playback on all-access video and low power consumption, while drag-and-drop capabilities enable users to customize their experience. The search capabilities showcased within the Sports Illustrated video also give users more access to videos from multiple sources.
To effectively move toward implementing HTML5, marketers should determine whether their videos are ready for the platform and choose the appropriate codec. Google has built enough momentum for VP8 by simultaneously announcing support in most browsers and by most companies that the format can’t be ignored. Marketers should also be sure to design videos with enhanced content in mind. Using the appropriate tags ensure that videos get properly indexed and stay searchable. Tying in all relevant content to the video subject matter, like related articles or photos, will help make the video content more interactive and customizable, as seen in the Sports Illustrated video. Enabling social media capabilities will also allow users to share content, thereby further exposing the content to more users and additional screens. Of course, it’s also important to keep in mind some standard SEO video best practices like including optimized text, page titles and descriptions in any HTML5 video object.
Considering the growing prevalence of HTML5 and the accessibility it provides, it’s important for marketers to adapt to this evolving video format and take advantage of the new capabilities in order to keep up with competitors and stay visible with their audience. By serving consumers at every possible touchpoint through the adoption of HTML5, marketers can ensure that they stay accessible and engage consumers on every available screen.