How to Choose an Online Video Platform

I’ll be the first to admit that as a publisher, I was slow to embrace online video. At the time, we were performing well with our written editorial content, and the obstacles for video publishing were high, while the payoff was less than certain. However, in this decade, there’s no denying that online video has become mainstream. Men, women, kids, and teens consume videos online at an ever increasing rate and thankfully, marketers are thirsty for even more opportunities to get in front of the resulting eyeballs via video advertising. Despite my earlier hesitations, we have long since taken the plunge into online video and are now reaping the benefits of increased traffic and increased revenue. However, if you are a publisher that is still early in the stages of launching your video publishing efforts, chances are you’re evaluating which online video platform (OVP) is the best fit for your needs. The right OVP will enable you to maximize the visitors and marketing dollars that come with having a video-enabled website. While choosing an OVP should be simple, the reality, which we learned the hard way, is that the process requires a good amount of business planning and research to ensure that you are choosing the right solution for your needs.

At an OMMA event I attended earlier this year, a presenter provided the audience with survey results laying out the biggest challenges for publishers in launching an online video strategy. Below are some challenges that most resonated with me from our early days in video. I have attempted to outline them in a way that shares a few OVP options that can help eliminate (or at least dramatically reduce) each challenge.

Challenge No. 1: How to make money with online video?

Why waste your time developing an online video strategy if you aren’t going to make any money with it? The use of YouTube embeds should be part of any publisher’s video strategy – free and timely content via a reliable delivery medium. However, to make money you will need to leverage an OVP that allows you to monetize your video inventory directly, or by leveraging their third-party sales relationships. Brightcove, Wistia, Kaltura, SpringBoard, and Ooyala are among the OVPs that allow you to traffic ads and earn revenue from the videos that are watched on your website.

Challenge No. 2: Online video publishing is expensive.

Other than perhaps the cost of content, the main source of costs as they relate to video publishing is the cost of hosting and bandwidth. For a publisher looking to get into online video, the last thing you want to worry about is absorbing these costs before you’ve even made a nickel from your efforts. While the Brightcoves of the world are great platforms, they cost money to use (licensing costs, bandwidth, etc.), which may not be something a new video publisher is willing to commit to from the start. Luckily, there are a number of great OVPs that remove the cost issue from consideration. SpringBoard and LongTail are examples of OVPs that eliminate (or dramatically reduce) cost from the equation.

Challenge No. 3: How to source video content?

Unless you are a publisher who already has libraries of video you would like to show your audience, chances are you are in need of a video content source. First off, it’s cheap and easy to get a camera and start vlogging for your audience. Beyond that, there are a few OVP options that offer content that can be licensed directly from their platform. Real Gravity and 5Min are examples of video player solutions that offer a library of content (some premium, some not) that you can choose from to display on your site. And if making money on your video is not important to you, YouTube, DailyMotion, and many other video portals can be a solution – just grab their video embed and go!

Online Video image on home page via Shutterstock.

This column was originally published on July 3, 2012.