So you want publish video on your web site, and you want to make sure it plays on the iPad? Furthermore, maybe you want to be able to track or monetize those videos? Unfortunately, since the iPad doesn’t support Adobe Flash, publishers have to find other ways to ready their video assets for the device. However, there are a few vendors that are working to sole these problems and make it easy to publish videos on the device.
Here’s a list of the things you’ll need and the vendors that are working to make it easy to get your videos seen on Apple’s new tablet device. (Note: Not every vendor will have announced support for the iPad at the time of this writing, so we’ll be updating this post with new products as they become known to us.)
Video management platforms
The first thing you’ll need is an online video platform (OVP) to manage and distribute your videos. Chances are, if you’ve been publishing videos to your website, you have one of these already. But since most videos on the web today are published in Adobe Flash, you’ll need to make sure that your OVP supports HTML5 video, which is used for iPad video delivery.
Encoding for the iPad
If you already have a library of content that you want to deliver to the iPad, you’ll probably have to re-encode it to optimize video for the device. The iPad plays H.264-encoded video, which is pretty standard nowadays, even for Flash video streams. However, to get the best quality, most video publishers will want their videos to support multi-bitrate streaming, which will adapt to the amount of bandwidth available to the device, depending on the strength of the WiFi or 3G network that the iPad is connected to. Most OVPs will help you re-encode your video files within their management platform, but if you want to encode them yourselves, there are a few cloud encoding providers that will provide easy tools for you to do so.
Cloud-based encoding vendors HDCloud and Encoding.com both support encoding into H.264 at multiple bit rates. For publishers that need to encode large amounts of video and want to take care of it themselves, a number of equipment vendors, including Elemental Technologies, Wowza, Digital Rapids and Inlet Technologies, already support the necessary encoding format.
Advertising and analytics
Advertising is a weak point for web video on the iPad — and for HTML5 in general. Because most video advertising creative is created in Flash, and because the tools for dynamic ad insertion in HTML5 aren’t yet mature, publishers are forced to either stitch ads into their video files to run as pre-rolls, or find other workarounds to get video ads seen. Even if those ads could be delivered, the ability to get fine-grained reporting is still lost in HTML5. While they can count the number of views a video got through progressive downloads, the ability to see how much of a video a viewer watched, where they came from or even how strong their bandwidth connection was, are all pieces of analytics that years of Flash reporting has solved that HTML5 is just beginning to work out.
That said, there are a number of companies are working on offering up solutions that will give publishers the ability to serve up in-stream ads, while also tracking how much video has been watched. mDialog, for instance, says it can deliver video ads on the fly by using Apple’s HTTP-based adaptive bit-rate streaming for ad insertion. MeFeedia also announced support for HTML5 video and iPad compatibility last week. And content delivery network Limelight Networks (LLNW) has a solution for dynamically serving video web pages to multiple mobile devices, including the iPad, without having to create custom templates. The Limelight solution, which autodetects mobile devices and does dynamic transcoding of video files to support the correct device profile, also supports dynamic delivery of ads to the iPad, as well as reporting and analytics.
For video beginners
Don’t have a ton of videos already, but want to start publishing on a site or platform that supports iPad playback? There are a few sites for beginning publishers that should work just fine, including YouTube, Vimeo and Blip.tv. All three have support for HTML5 web video that can be viewed in the iPad’s Safari browser, and YouTube and Blip also have native iPad apps available for viewing videos that have been published using their platforms.
To learn more about how you can put the cloud to work for video transcoding and related issues, please take a look at our upcoming Structure 2010 conference.
Related content on NewTeeVee: The NewTeeVee Guide to Watching Web Video on the iPad
Related content on GigaOM Pro: Can Anyone Compete With the iPad? (subscription required)