Delegate: The Best Strategy for Displaying Online Video

John Cooney

In recent nerd-related news, Google revealed plans to remove support for the H.264 video codec from future versions of their Chrome web browser. Roughly translated, this means the people who build the tools for delivering web content (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Firefox, etc.) can’t agree on how to display video – and the situation is about to get worse, without any solid standards-based solutions in sight.

Because of this mess, there’s a lot of extra work for website owners to ensure everyone can see their videos. On a recent project, for instance, Orbit was forced to upload three versions of the same video to make it compatible with all major browsers and mobile devices (iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.) – and there’s still no guarantee that we won’t need to add more in the future.

Now for the good part: video hosting services like YouTube and Viddler have armies of developers who do nothing but work through these issues. So while we can’t predict where web video standards are heading, we do know that uploading your video to a reputable hosting service – and then embedding the video to play on your site – should always work. The service will format your video as many times as necessary, and they’ll also keep up with the latest changes in standards. (For the near future, anyway; certainty beyond that is just not attainable in this world, I’m afraid.)

So upload your video to a hosting service and let them worry about the formatting. You’ll never have to think about the H.264 video codec ever again.

And isn’t that what we all want?

John Cooney

John Cooney

What are your thoughts?

By signing up you agree to our Privacy Policy.

Comments (4)
  • This is something I’ve been concerned about as we begin to have talks about adding video to our site. What sucks about hosting our videos on YouTube is that you get a big fat YouTube watermark in the bottom right corner. And even the highest-res versions of the videos turn to crap when filtered/optimized for view on YouTube. Any way of getting around this and still being able to post universally watchable videos?

    • As for the YouTube watermark, using another hosting service (we like Viddler) will often allow you to remove the branding while still supporting all devices and browsers. Of course, these hosting services generally cost money, but depending on your needs, the price can be very reasonable.

      My video sources (Jeff again) tell me there are ways to improve the quality of YouTube embedded video, but these will affect the load time for users will slower connections. Like most things, it’s a delicate balancing depending on your specific needs and target audience.

  • John,
    Any thoughts on the rumor that Google will temporarily shed their “Don’t be evil” motto and use YouTube to leverage a greater market share for, or encourage adoption of, WebM?

    • I’ve checked with my video sources (thanks Jeff) and they tell me YouTube will almost certainly support WebM, but not exclusively. WebM simply has too little support in the mobile market at this point – if YouTube switches now, they’d lose all the iDevices and Android. Of course, Android is likely getting WebM shortly, but it’s very difficult to predict where this market will be headed in the coming months and years.

      As for the ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto, Google says it’s removing support for h.264 for the good of openness, but I’ll remain suspicious of all corporate-speak (even from friendly search engines) until I see action. So how Google engages with the larger web community and answers some of these questions will be interesting to watch.

Join over 16,000 people who receive web marketing tips every two weeks.

By signing up you agree to our Privacy Policy.