IS YOUR WEB SITE READY FOR PRIME TIME??
In first two articles on streaming media, I discussed audio, maturest streaming technology, and streaming pictures, which marries photos and graphics with an audio presentation. (If you missed these two installments, please go to http://www.wbcimaging.com/articles/audio_article.htm). I'd now like to tell you about streaming video, hottest and most exciting media development on web today!
Just as television progressed from black and white, sometimes snowy, broadcasts of 1940's and 50's to elaborate home theatre systems of today, streaming video is making transition from tiny, blurry pictures to 1/4 screen color presentations with near CD quality sound. And with surprisingly good quality over 28.8 connections that most web visitors experience today! I credit this breakthrough to RealNetworks, creators of RealVideo, which is currently most popular streaming video format in use. (Others about which you might have heard or read are Vivo and Microsoft NetShow.) At end of first quarter of 1999, RealNetworks reported that over 45 million of their FREE players had been downloaded; this number is growing by 15,000 per day!
An online streaming video presentation is another marketing tool that is now affordable and extremely effective. Streaming video adds far more than just a personal touch to your web site; it actually sets you miles apart from your competition. As with streaming audio or pictures, a video presentation guarantees that at least 86% of your visitors will stay to listen or to watch. Statistics have shown that over 90% of white collar workers have a PC on their desks, but only 9% have access to television in workplace. That means that you can reach more white-collar office workers during normal office hours than all of network and cable stations combined.
Streaming video enables you to combine best attributes of web-based media with compelling nature of broadcast media. On-line advertisers are realizing significantly higher click-through rates with adoption of streaming media technology. Recent studies have found that streaming media advertising substantially increases brand recall, brand awareness, and positive brand perception. This really gives you opportunity to deliver a powerful message about your products or services - much like having your own, personal "infomercial. " Unlike a television infomercial, however, yours is available for one fixed price and it runs 365/24/7... thanks to Internet.
Your streaming video presentation can be submitted on VHS tape, CD, and DVD; most encoding companies will be able to use those formats. (If your presentation is in another format, such as 8mm, check with them before sending media.) The quality of finished product will be dependent upon how it's encoded for transmission. Standard practice is to encode video to stream over Internet at 28.8 connections. In order to stream smoothly at this slow speed, an extremely high level of compression is required for both audio and video tracks. This compression causes small portions of data to be "eliminated." (That's why some of video presentations you now see are not as clear as you would like them to be. With advent of higher bandwidth, however, this situation will vastly improve in future.) When completed, your encoding company will provide you with web ready files to place on your site, or you may choose to have your encoding company host your presentation.