Streaming media is a marketing tool that deserves consideration by small business and home based business owners as a means of achieving increased on-line traffic to their website. This segment of the business world has historically not utilized this technology for economic reasons. However, technology advances have made this marketing tool affordable to businesses of all sizes. This is an important issue because this new marketing tool has characteristics that achieve significantly better results than traditional marketing techniques.
Streaming media is defined as as "sound (audio) and pictures (video) that are transmitted on the Internet in a streaming or continuous fashion, using data packets. The most effective reception of sound and video streaming media requires some form of broadband technology such as cable modem or DSL”. Whatis.com defines streaming video as "a sequence of moving images that are sent in compressed form over the Internet and displayed by the viewer as they arrive. Streaming media is streaming video with sound. With these streaming technologies, a Web user does not have to wait for a large file to download before seeing the video or hearing the sound. Instead, the media is sent in a continuous stream and is played as it arrives. The user needs a player, which is a special program that decompresses and sends video data to the display and audio data to speakers. A player can be either an integral part of a browser or downloaded from the software maker's Web site”.
Note the definition above in reference to the fact that this technology does not require a large file to be received in total before the video and sound start to play. This is an important issue. In contrast, websites with considerable graphic content can take a very long time to download. Many potential customers don't have the patience to wait for a long download. A business may not achieve increased online traffic if their marketing message has an excessive download time.
What is video? This seems like an elementary question, but it isn't. Wikipedia defines video as "the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion. Video technology was first developed for television systems, but has been further developed in many formats to allow for consumer video recording. Video can also be viewed through the Internet as video clips or streaming video clips on computer monitors." With this enlightening definition in mind, it's important to think of video in broader terms than television and video camera imagery.
As pointed out above, video does include television and video camera technology. Digital media files that represent television and video camera images are very large. Consider this sequence of events:
- The prospective customer enters the address of the media file online.
- The media file begins to download over the internet to the recipient's computer.
- While the file continues to download, the recipient's computer begins to present the message video content on the computer monitor and the audio on the computer's speaker system.
- The media file often plays faster on the recipient's computer than the file download speed. As a result the media file has to halt its presentation while it waits for the download to catch up. It then continues the presentation.
- Before long the presentation once again needs to halt and wait for more download as described above.
Such broken communication often causes a prospect to quit watching and listening in the middle of the marketing message. This problem does not occur in all cases and at all times, but it does occur. Technology will resolve this issue in time, but today broken communication associated with television and video camera imagery often results in lost opportunities.
The other aspect of this new understanding of video pertains to photographs, graphic images, banners, and Flash images that are presented as scenes in motion. These files are much smaller and they download quickly without any break in the presentation. When presented in the proper manner they are very effective in getting results. This technology needs to be incorporated into a marketing strategy.
One of the most important reasons for integrating streaming media into a marketing strategy is the fact that the combination of sound and pictures is much more effective at capturing and holding the attention of a prospective customer. In contrast, newspaper ads, trade magazine ads, and most website pages are ineffective. They don't capture and hold the attention of a prospect. A marketing message that doesn't capture and hold the prospect's attention will not produce the desired result. In addition, it's important to note that people only remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 40% of what they read and hear.
Most business websites are great sources of information but poor in communicating a marketing message. The role of streaming video with sound should not be to replace a business website, but rather to drive traffic to the business website.
Historically, there have been firms that offered a streaming digital marketing message at a cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 or more to produce and deliver online. New technologies make it simpler for an On-Line Marketing Service to design, integrate, and deliver a streaming media marketing message as a turnkey solution. Now there are high quality solutions available for less than $2,000 for the total package including a full year of service. In spite of the low cost, the quality of the marketing presentation remains high. Because these services are turnkey, there is no additional capital equipment cost and no need to hire additional staff to support this media beyond the need to respond to the increase in online traffic. It's time for small business and home business owners to integrate streaming media into their marketing strategy now.
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