The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications


Published on

As content owners and publishers seek to take advantage of the booming broadband
video industry, they must explore new models for video distribution. Online video
syndication is quickly taking hold as the means to reach the widest audience and
maximize revenue-generating potential. To succeed, companies need to automate
distribution workflows and standardize their video player applications. This whitepaper provides an overview of the technology challenges and barriers, and delves into potential solutions through standardized workflows and open video player initiatives.

For more information on related Akamai solutions, please visit:

Published in: Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications

  1. 1. White PaperThe Importance of Open Standardsfor Online Video Player Applications —September 2008
  2. 2. Table of ContentsTHE ONLINE VIDEO SYNDICATION TREND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS TO GROWTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Complex Distribution Workflows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Lack of Standard Video Player Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2THE SOLUTION: STANDARDIZED WORKFLOWS AND VIDEO PLAYERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Open Video Player Initiative ..........................................3 Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Akamai Media Framework: A Foundation for Standardization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Industry-standard Publishing Workflows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Industry-standard Video Player Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6ABOUT AKAMAI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
  3. 3. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications 1The Online Video Syndication TrendThe boom in the availability of high-definition content along with growing broadband For advertisers, syndication may bepenetration has whetted consumers’ appetites for high-quality online video. Consider the best way to get the numbers upthese statistics: while still enabling the kind of precise targeting that they’ve come to• According to ComScore, 11 billion videos were viewed online in April of 2008 by expect online2. Web users in the U.S. alone.• Nearly 71 percent of total Internet users watched online video that month.• By 2013, around 1 billion people worldwide will consume video content delivered over broadband, according to ABI Research1.For media companies and advertisers, capturing this valuable audience and theattendant ad dollars is of the utmost importance. The challenge is that, with the rareexception of YouTube, audiences are fragmented. Instead of accessing a single site,consumers are viewing video across a multitude of popular video destination sites suchas Metacafe,, and the Web sites of major TV broadcast networks.These trends have spawned a new and fundamentally different approach to videodistribution, one that analyst and publisher Will Richmond describesas the “syndicated video economy.” In this economy, the traditional model of tightlycontrolled distribution points is replaced by an emphasis on proliferating content tofar-flung audiences. In other words, content owners must reach audiences whereverthey reside in order to maximize digital media revenues. And to attract advertisers,publishers need to aggregate an audience that is large enough to make it impactfulfor advertisers. As agencies begin to invest more funds in video advertising, one ofthe key requirements is to reach the largest possible target audience whilestreamlining their media buying.THE SYNDICATED VIDEO ECONOMY PRESENTS CONTENT OWNERS WITHTHE OPPORTUNITY FOR ‘DIRECT TO CONSUMER’ DISTRIBUTION MODELS“…more and more industry participants’ strategies—in both media and technology—[are] starting from the proposition that the broadband video industry will only succeed if video assets are widely dispersed and revenue creatively apportioned” —Will Richmond, analyst and publisher
  4. 4. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications 2Technology Challenges andBarriers to GrowthAs is evidenced by a number of sites and initiatives, such as and the syndica-tion strategies of companies like MTV Networks, companies are increasingly seekingto widely syndicate their video assets and engage in advertising revenue-share deals.However, in spite of the growth of online video syndication and the maturity of onlinedistribution, two fundamental barriers stand in the way of further success:• Complex distribution workflows• Lack of standard video player applicationsComplex Distribution WorkflowsA media company that owns valuable video content—like news or sports highlights orfull TV episodes—likely has two key goals: 1) Publishing content quickly for maximum audience impact 2) Distributing the content broadly through partners to maximize revenue and audience reachUnfortunately, many companies struggle to quickly distribute content because of theirreliance on manual processes related to content preparation (transcoding and metadatacreation), content ingestion, approval (editorial), policy and publishing. Adding distributionpartners further complicates the distribution process. For example, companies may needto offer multiple content formats, and associate a variety of meta data and business ruleswith their content, such as around revenue sharing, geographic restrictions, and releasewindows. All of this information must travel with the content.To meet these objectives, companies need fast, automated distribution workflows, withfull support for transcoding, meta data, business rules, and advertising.Lack of Standard Video Player ApplicationTo date, companies have used video player applications—either built from scratch orbased on proprietary third-party technology—to suit the requirements of their own siteand advertising technology solutions. The requirements of the new syndicated economycomplicates matters. Now, in order to enable creative advertising revenue splits and third-party syndication deals, video players need to support the advertising rules and technologyused by both content owners and syndication partners. In addition, to keep content freshand interesting for viewers, video players must be able to automatically receive and publishnew content from multiple third parties.By definition, proprietary video player applications are inflexible when it comes toaccommodating different ad technologies, creative changes, and business policymodifications.As a result of a lack of standardization across video players, many companies arerebuilding their video players to include the ad logic and rules for their distributionpartners. Not only is this manual effort extremely time-consuming, it’s not scalablefrom a business perspective.Video player applications developed leveraging popular video formats such as AdobeFlash and Microsoft Silverlight enable content owners and publishers to deliver high-quality content in a branded player that promotes user engagement. However, whilethese development platforms offer complete creative flexibility and ownership of sourcecode needed to represent and control branding, they require coding and developing fromscratch. The result? Lengthy time to market and high development costs. In addition,integrating video publishing with video advertising providers and ad servers is difficult,especially as publishers and developers tackle these projects on a one-off basis.These issues impede the growth of video advertising on an individual site levelas well as for the industry overall.
  5. 5. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications 3The Solution: Standardized Workflowsand Video PlayersAs with any emerging market, industry-wide success depends on the adoption ofstandards. For example, Macromedia, Inc., (now Adobe) the Interactive AdvertisingBureau (IAB), and key advertising serving companies like DoubleClick, Inc. helped theindustry standardize on a single way to build Flash ad banners so that they could betracked across different sites. They simply encouraged the best practice of insertinga dynamic ‘ClickTag’ into a Flash banner that the ad server could populate with thecorrect URL when the ad was delivered. This provided ad agencies with a standard wayto build ads that could be leveraged across multiple Web sites, and enabled publishersto accurately track metrics for their online media campaigns. This and other industrystandardization efforts such as the IAB’s ‘universal ad package’, while seemingly simplemeasures, were key drivers for the proliferation of advertising online.With that in mind, Akamai—along with leading companies in the online videoecosystem—have created a resource to help media content owners and publishersaddress the new requirements around publishing workflows and video playerapplications.The Open Video Player InitiativeFor the last decade, Akamai has had the unique opportunity to work closely with topMedia & Entertainment companies as they move their entertainment strategies onlineand play a key role in the Internet evolution from largely static flat sites to sites rich withvideo, and dynamic content and applications. Leveraging this experience, Akamai hasaccrued a considerable knowledge base around delivering high-quality consumer videoexperiences—iincluding best practices for video player application development.With a goal of sharing this knowledge with the industry and the developmentcommunity, Akamai and its partners have launched a Web site dedicated to thisinitiative. The site——is a community resource fordevelopers wanting to build online video players using Adobe Flash or MicrosoftSilverlight. On the site, developers can access open code-based player references andresources that will ease the process of video player design and implementation, andsimplify the process of publishing and syndication. As a result, companies will find iteasier to support advertising-based business models and benefit from the syndicatedvideo economy.HULU.COM’S FEATURE-RICH VIDEO PLAYER APPLICATION (BASED ON ADOBE FLASHAND THE AKAMAI MEDIA FRAMEWORK) IS WIDELY EMULATED IN THE INDUSTRY
  6. 6. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications ResourcesThe goal of the site is to offer resources that promote best practices around videoplayer application development. The following are available via the site:• Reference Implementations and Sample Code Player source code to speed development of video players as well as code and documentation to connect Open Video Player-based projects to leading advertising technologies.• Community Best Practices A forum for the exchange and sharing of community best practices.• Developer Forum an open exchange of ideas and expert advice on player development through a forum staffed by interactive designers and leaders in the Adobe Flash and Silverlight developer community.• Developer Resources A library of documentation and video tutorials that explain how to utilize Internet standards to build professional-grade online video players.Akamai Media Framework: A Foundation for StandardizationA key component of the Open Video Player community is the Akamai MediaFramework, a software development kit that can be used to solve commonproblems encountered when building media player applications in Adobe Flashand Microsoft Silverlight.Key Features Key Benefits • Network and delivery management • Promotes best practices and open • Playback management standards • Metadata management • Reduces complexity (time and cost) • Extensible and flexible AkamaiConnection AkamaiLivePublish AkamaiMediaRSSParser AMD/FMS User Interface Application Logic AkamaiBOSSParser AkamaiEnhancesNetStorage HTTP DELIVERY HTTPBandwidthEstimateTHE AKAMAI MEDIA FRAMEWORK FOR ADOBE FLASH: A FOUNDATION FOR MEDIAPLAYER APPLICATIONS
  7. 7. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications 5Industry-standard Publishing WorkflowsTo scale and syndicate their content across multiple distribution partners, companiesneed to leverage industry-standard publishing workflows. To that end, more and morecompanies are turning to Really Simple Syndication (RSS) as a tool for managing andpublishing their video content.The Akamai Media Framework includes an RSS parsing class, enabling companies to usethe industry standard Media RSS to publish content to their video player. With supportfor metadata, RSS enables users to search on metadata to find videos of interest.Organizations can plug RSS feeds into players they have created, or can deliver them viathe Akamai Stream OS media management solution, which integrates with the AkamaiMedia Framework. When video content is uploaded to directories in Stream OS, thedirectories are automatically added to the correct RSS feed for a hands-off approach topublishing. Additional distribution channels can be added simply by creating anotherRSS feed.Industry-standard Video Player ApplicationsBy leveraging the code included in the Akamai Media Framework, companies canfocus on adding value to the player experience instead of on the more mundane ‘underthe hood’ aspects of video player development. The framework provides free sourcecode based on an open source license, minimizing hours spent on coding, debugging,and QA.The framework also enables companies to develop and standardize on a core mediaplayer that can be leveraged by multiple partners in a distribution network. Companiessimply re-skin the player and distribute it for use. Because the underlying frameworkremains the same, the process of distributing content to new channels is greatlysimplified.Facilitating Third-Party IntegrationWith support for standardization around business logic, the framework facilitatesintegration of third-party solutions, such as ad serving through ‘connectors’. The OpenVideo Player site offers sample code-based reference implementations from leadingadvertising technology companies for easy integration and support of video ad formats,ad servers, and even ad networks. Publishers simply download code and documentationto leverage for their video player applications. Inaugural partners include:Ad Servers Ad Technology Providers Ad Networks • Black Arrow • Eyewonder • SmartClip • 24/7 Real Media • Panache • Scan Scout
  8. 8. The Importance of Open Standards for Online Video Player Applications 6 Summary As content owners and publishers seek to take advantage of the booming broadband video industry, they must explore new models for video distribution. Online video syndication is quickly taking hold as the means to reach the widest audience and maximize revenue-generating potential. To succeed, companies need to automate distribution workflows and standardize their video player applications. Akamai and industry leaders in online video distribution and advertising have developed a Web site providing the knowledge base and technology resources needed to drive syndication forward. In addition to developer and best practices forums, and online documentation and tutorials, the site offers access to technology standards and a framework for video player applications that support syndication business models. To join this community and access these forums and resources, please visit The AdAge Web Video Report, In Web Video, Syndication May Rival Search, August 13, 20082. Ibid3. VideoNuze, Welcome to the ‘Syndicated Video Economy’, March 11, 2008The Akamai DifferenceAkamai® provides market-leading managed services for powering rich media, dynamic transactions, and enterprise applications online.Having pioneered the content delivery market one decade ago, Akamai’s services have been adopted by the world’s most recognized brandsacross diverse industries. The alternative to centralized Web infrastructure, Akamai’s global network of tens of thousands of distributedservers provides the scale, reliability, insight and performance for businesses to succeed online. An S&P 500 and NASDAQ 100 company,Akamai has transformed the Internet into a more viable place to inform, entertain, interact, and collaborate. To experience The AkamaiDifference, visit Technologies, Inc.U.S. Headquarters Akamai Technologies GmbH8 Cambridge Center Park Village, Betastrasse 10 bCambridge, MA 02142 D-85774 Unterföhring, Germany ©2008 Akamai Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in partTel 617.444.3000 Tel +49 89 94006.0 in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited. Akamai and theFax 617.444.3001 Akamai wave logo are registered trademarks. Other trademarks contained herein are the www.akamai.comU.S. toll-free 877.4AKAMAI property of their respective owners. Akamai believes that the information in this publication(877.425.2624) is accurate as of its publication date; such information is subject to change without notice.