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Architecting Video Online

How one publisher organizes its video library to ensure maximum engagement.



By Chandra Johnson-Greene
12/09/2009

For the past few years, publishers have been using video content on their Web sites to increase and maintain audience engagement. But as video libraries continue to grow, companies have had to find different ways to organize and archive the content while maintaining its visibility.

The use of online video platforms via Brightcove, Magnify.net and others have become increasingly popular because they allow publishers to customize their video content in minutes as opposed to weeks. Some companies have even built their own  internal content management systems to enhance what their hosted platforms already provide.

With seven Web properties and 850,000 videos being streamed each month, The Taunton Press, which publishes enthusiast titles such as Fine Cooking and Fine Woodworking, has a mix of premium video content—available to those that pay an online membership—as well as free content, which is used to entice users to become members. A year-and-a-half ago, the company decided to move all of its videos from its in-house CMS to Brightcove.

“It allowed us to become more agile with where we put our videos and how much we show our non-members,” executive Web producer Matthew Berger told FOLIO:.

According to Berger, Taunton’s videos are organized in two ways: destination content, which refers to videos created for a series on one particular topic, and supplemental content., which refers to one-off videos that support another piece of content, such as recipes. The two types of content make up for 25 and 75 percent of the video views, respectively. “We try and get users to watch these videos in two ways: by creating entire channels—we call them microsites—and by making sure the videos show up everywhere. In other words, users are going to come across our videos each time they explore our Web sites.”

Each site also has a section where users can access the entire video library, but Berger says that receives just a small portion of views. “Our users aren’t really coming to our sites to watch videos,” Berger said. “We usually have to drive them to a specific topic and then they happen to come across the videos related to that topic.”

In addition to giving users different ways to access videos, Taunton has also found ways to encourage them to watch more than one video at a time. “On FineCooking.com, for example, we had a video that taught viewers how to slice, dice and chop an onion,” Berger said. “When it was a stand-alone video, it didn’t perform well, but once we added a playlist below it, the number of views picked up.”

Playlists are embedded below the video the viewer is currently watching, and in the case of the onion video, related videos on how to sharpen a knife and how to cut a chicken into parts, are highlighted. By offering these additional videos, he said, viewers were prompted to explore topics they may have never thought to view before.

Ensuring that Videos Show Up in Search

But the work doesn’t stop there. In order for these videos to become searchable and—as a result—more visible, they have to be surrounded by other content, especially if Google powers your Web site’s search bar. “Video is not just about what sits in your player,” Berger said. “You have to have other links and text surrounding it. Google won’t know if a particular video belongs in a search if there’s no text, so we encourage our producers to surround each video with text.”

In fact, there’s particular protocol for the staff at Taunton when uploading new videos: add a playlist with related videos, find a destination page in which the video fits, find or create content that can surround the video and place the video on pages that have high traffic.

Another issue with having a Google-powered search bar on your site, according to Berger, is that it makes archiving difficult. “Part of properly archiving online video is having searchable video,” he said. “And that relies on having text on the page surrounding it. Therefore, optimizing the page is key—including the word ‘video,’ for example is important. It represents the natural way that people search for content. I’m not sure we’ve totally succeeded in tackling archiving yet, but we’re working on it.”

By Chandra Johnson-Greene
12/09/2009







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