For many small and medium publishers video has become in 2010 what images have been online for years, an indispensable way to make an article feel more compelling to the reader. Just as many bloggers and other publishers always rooted around the Google Image search engine to find just the right illustration for a text piece, now many of them are hunting around for just the right contextually relevant video to pull into a page. And of course the best source for videos on just about anything is still YouTube. The problem, of course, is that YouTube video embeds offer a pretty limited range of looks and feels, and you really can't get much in the way of metrics against them.
Yesterday video publishing platform Ooyala launched a new feature that lets publishers integrate YouTube video with their pages and other videos in what appears to be a more seamless and sophisticated way. The Ooyala player and Backlot content management and analytics engine is used by Dell, General Mills, Endemol Glam and Electronic Arts among others.
President of Ooyala Bismarck Lepe explained at the company blog yesterday that he knew many of his publishers were already embedding YouTube videos at their sites, "but it wasn't until one of our publishers asked us to help them with their YouTube workflow that we decided to do something about it." This feature leverages the YouTube APIs so that the publishers can actually search for contextually relevant videos from within the interface, grab code and embed the video into the player.
In addition to being able to integrate YouTube searching and embedding with the workflow, Ooyala says that the feature also allows for more granular analytics about who is viewing your videos and how they are interacting with them. The YouTube clips still are hosted on the Google servers but the APIs are pulling them into the Ooyala player and letting publishers apply the same analytics to them they can their other content.
At the risk of revealing my advanced age, it really wasn't too long ago that video was a rarified and expensive commodity. For a century, recorded sound and motion were so unlike other media experiences before it that it was almost always the centerpiece of a media experience -- the massive movie screen in the dark theater or the hearth-like TV around which the living room was ordered. I still remember 8mm and Super-8 film reels that lasted three minutes, took a week to get back from the lab, and were tortuous to edit and splice. As a teen Kubrick wannabe, I started in my basement helming stop motion and 20-second home movie scenarios. Making even rudimentary movies with some meaning was so involved it made us think of the medium differently. In just a few short years its creation, distribution, and easy reuse has changed the medium radically into something that we now can use to complement and amplify other media. We cut and paste video with the ease of moving text in a document. Does video lose any of its former charm and even special power when we use it like text?