Is your video player as good as your content?

Ten years ago, a streaming video player performed one function – it played your video. Today, the features of your player are critical to achieving the maximum return on investment from your video. Specifically, a well featured, properly designed player should increase your site’s stickiness, improve your site’s visibility, increase the amount of time viewers spend watching your video and help streamline your company’s sales cycle.

If you’re in the process of creating a new player, or choosing an online video platform, these are the features you should be considering.

Here’s your basic video player, a video that I embedded from YouTube. It’s a pretty good deal, really, YouTube pays all the costs of creating the player and distributing the video for me, and I get to link it on my site.

However, if you compare this player to the one actually used by YouTube, you’ll see that the Google subsidiary is retaining virtually all of the player-related goodies on their own site. By that I mean the features shown in the screenshot below, a grab from the YouTube site for this video.

First, you see views, ratings and comments, both features that allow viewers to interact with the video. This particular video, of my daughter Rosie disassembling and reassembling an HP Z800 computer, has been seen over 8,800 times, had been rated 17 times and has 24 text comments.

Understand that there are really two tasks involved with getting your video watched. First, getting the viewer there, second, convincing them to watch the video. A potential viewer who encounters this video on YouTube will have (to paraphrase Terrell Owens) 8800 + 17 +24  reasons to watch this video, while a potential viewer who sees the bare embedded video window on my site has none.

Actually, it’s more that 8800 + 17 +24, because the viewer on YouTube knows that he/she has a chance to join the conversation, to participate and be heard. The player on my site just plays the video.

When creating your player (or choosing your service provider), make sure that it has features that foster viewer engagement.