Imagine if you could click on a video and instantly watch it play without clicking through the annoying pop-ups that require you to download the latest plug-in, such as Adobe Flash. Even better, what if you could watch this instantaneous video in the palm of your hand without any unforeseen complications? This sounds like a dream come true not only for the user but also for savvy advertisers who are continually trying to entice their target audience.
Fortunately, it’s not a dream: it’s HTML 5. HTML 5 is the proposed next iteration of the prevailing language of web sites. Modern browsers such as Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari—as well as most mobile browsers using webKit—currently understand this language. One of the key purposes of HTML 5 is to promote universality across online web applications, rendering plug-ins like Adobe Flash irrelevant.
HTML 5 opens the door to easier video streaming, particularly on mobile platforms. Most of these platforms have browsers that cannot support video codecs and plug-ins (e.g., iPhone does not support Flash). This inability creates a large roadblock between advertisers and their potential buyers. By simply using <video> and <audio> elements as part of HTML 5, web site designers can embed videos and audio files into web sites without worrying about a particular platform’s video rendering capabilities.
Additionally, the video element of HTML 5 has an extensive API (application programming interface) which creates opportunities for using scripts to design the playback and control interface of the video (e.g., complements the web site’s aesthetics). These enhanced capabilities offer the ideal video experience for mobile users, which will in turn open the floodgate to advertisers who leverage video for their marketing initiatives.
The one challenge advertisers may face with HTML 5 is the fact that, unlike early adopters who will usually browse with the latest releases, the majority of users, particularly desktop users, do not update their browsers in a timely manner. The different adoption rates present a problem for advertisers who are using the new markup language for their video advertisements; thus, they may only be able to connect with the early adopters.
The upside to this problematic situation is that mobile users are more prone to update their mobile devices through mandatory operating system upgrades. For instance, the recent iPhone OS update 3.0 featured a new variant of its Safari webKit browser that supports HTML 5. As a free update initiated through its companion computer software iTunes, the majority of iPhone owners have access to HTML 5 markup language. Leveraging the HTML 5 video element on increasingly popular mobile platforms therefore is more promising in the near future than on desktop platforms.
With the enhanced capabilities of HTML 5, I would expect to see a resurgence of innovative online videos. Advertisers should take advantage of video advertisements, since they will be easier to access by their potential consumers. Additionally, their ever-increasing popularity has not showed any signs of slowing down. As I mentioned in my last column, online video continues to climb in penetration and viewership. In fact, according to recent comScore data, online video experienced a record-breaking month this past July:
- 58 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during the month, the largest audience ever recorded.
- 1.4 billion videos were viewed during the month, which reached another all time high.
- The majority (81%) of the US internet audience viewed online videos with an average online video viewership of 8.3 hours.
With this extremely high demand for online video and the new video capabilities supported by HTML 5, the next generation of online video will really make dreams come true for both users and advertisers.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.