Positive web engagement management requires novel yet concise means of attracting the user. Where does video fall within the spectrum of good and bad experiences?

Can Video be Welcoming?

Being greeted by a video clip on any site in the first decade of the web was pretty much a no-no, something guaranteed to turn off the user and generate vocal complaints. But, after half a decade of YouTube, the rise of social media and smarter codecs and a hefty increase in bandwidth, can the user experience be improved by the subtle placement of a charming and well-constructed video?

In theory, it is still a big trick to pull off well (outside of news sites), and there are few examples that spring to mind (please enlighten us if you can think of any). But video doesn't need to be on the front door of a site. It's now acknowledged that visitors who view a product video are more likely to buy, so video more likely plays a more subtle part in a company's WEM strategy.

Video WEM helps site owners see what the visitor does before, during and after they click the video. The trick is deciding where to place and promote your videos and what to do with low-scoring clips. However you use video, it is still probably wise to allow the user to click "play" rather than starting it automatically.

As long as quality video is expensive to produce, there will always be a slight aversion to spending lots on message-based content. However, give it a few years with web agents, virtual avatars, intelligent voice editing and on-the-fly streaming, and we could see a situation where a badly performing video could be alerted by the analytics software, modified and edited in real time, so the next viewer (or even the viewer just about to give up) gets a better experience.

Press Play

Amazon is the first site you'd look to, to see how it makes use of video. Many suitable products now have a video clip, tacked on to the end of the photo library. You'll know video has superseded pictures when the video clip is moved to the front, or has its own window.

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Amazon helps sell product with extra videos

For those who use content as a way to show pre-roll adverts, the bar is pretty much set by YouTube. A recent blog post from the video company points out that adverts themselves were two of the most watched videos in 2010. YouTube's TrueView video ads mix user-friendliness with marketing by counting only when a viewer chooses to watch the video after a five-second preview, which offers a reasonable line between pushiness and user comfort.

Who's Playing Ball?

Google can certainly monitor your video, as part of its Cross Channel and Multimedia Tracking feature, while Webtrends is another app touting its video monitoring capabilities and the new Analytics 10 suite that is launching this month. Yet most players don't seem to shout about video, preferring to wrap it up as "content."

Skytide specializes in digital media performance management and is on the cutting edge, supporting variable bitrate protocols and able to measure a full set of media audience characteristics, including reach, frequency and viewer engagement.

Skytide's Insight for Video Players is a hosted service that aims to help companies understand their video efforts and work from the ground up to avoid expensive implementations. If your site currently lacks a video element, Brightcove offers an easy-to-deploy service with built-in advertising and metrics.

Another nod goes to TubeMogul, which offers a video advertising and analytics package that will play well to big brands or those generating revenue on the back of lots of social media content. Its InPlay service can be added to any site to add analytics to help measure views and engagement.

The Mobile Way

There will always be money in content, and video content is now as accepted as the word and photo. So, more sites will start to use it as a means of promotion or to provide information. With mobile-based (and even TV-based) browsing becoming increasingly prevalent, the video is a more natural method of presentation than hectic amounts of text and tiny pictures.

Its importance will only grow, and for enterprises, managing what is seen, who sees it and what they do with the information gleaned is vital. Managing all of this will be role of the experience management software. You need to be asking if it is up to the task, or what the developer is doing with it to add features that match your ambition.