Longtail Video was co-founded by Jeroen "JW" Wijering and started with his incredibly popular open-source JWplayer embeddable media player that has been downloaded more than 7 million times since 2005. In fact, the JWPlayer was the first player used by online video powerhouse YouTube, purchased from Jeroen for $20 Euros. Over the years the JW player has grown, expanded and increased in versatility and usability. It's even fully skinnable now so you can make it look exactly how you need it to and has a plug-in and modular architecture.
The JW Player actually comes in two flavors - FLV and WMV. Longtail also offers a Desktop player that was built in Adobe AIR and plays a wide variety of video formats as well as a Flash Image Rotator for websites.
The add-ons for the JW player include the ability to include ad solutions that allow standard pre/mid/post-roll ads as well as overlays and companion rich media ads. There's a Viral add-on that gives your viewers the ability to quickly share your content with others and numerous plug-ins for metric tracking, HD and ratings for the content. Modules help you build more into the player as well as put the player into popular CMS's like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
Since you're reading ReelSEO you're probably interested in the monetization side of things. Well luckily so are the people at Longtail who have created a full AdSolution package. This self-service solution allows you to plug just about any advertising network into the player giving you pre/mid/post-roll and overlays. Well, mid-roll isn't exactly ready just yet. They have partnerships with over 40 international ad networks so you should be able to use one you've already got or find one rather easily. They even allow you to use multiple (as in ALL) partners at the same time so you can rotate through ads as you please.
There are two versions of AdSolution -Inventory Share and Revenue Share -depending on if you are using ads through them or running your own. Inventory share means you're running your own ads from your own ad network accounts and you keep all of the revenue. Revenue Share means that LongTail will sell your inventory and pay you a share of the revenue your ads generate. They don't mention what percentage they will take. They also have a premium ad package where all the good ads go. However, if you don't own or license all of your own video content you can't use it. This area is really where all the 'good' ads - Google Adsense, ScanScout, etc - are and the ads in the standard package aren't that great and don't target very well even if you choose a specific channel.
I opened up an AdSolution account for myself to see how easy it would be to get up and running. It's essentially a 4-step process. Start a Channel, choose preferences, choose video(s) and Implement Code. Of course you need to have already downloaded the player and dropped it on your site. Now there's a strict no Commercial site policy unless you buy a license. The license for one site is only €30, a 10-pack for €129 (57% savings) or the Premium License (€200), which is good for up to 50 domains which might be handy if you're making video sites for clients. Licenses are all valid forever for a single one-time fee.
The ads need to be specifically configured somehow or they won't show up in all browsers. After some testing with Longtail tech support I was able to see it in most browsers. However there is no Linux Firefox support. While it's not a major thing, it means lost revenue. Now this was only tested with the FLV version of the player but I would think that would be the more universally acceptable one in comparison with the WMV version. If it's a do-it-yourself setup, why is it so difficult to get it functioning properly? I followed the setup wizard on the site and copied the code exactly as it told me and then a technical support person simply showed me a test page and mentioned that my 'configuration was probably wrong.' Considering they're charging to use the player and not necessarily the advertising solution can you complain?
Well, I can't understand how they launched a video player and an advertising solution without extensive testing. The forums are littered with numerous problems getting the player to function properly and the AdSolution forums are more of the same. So I guess I'm not alone in this.
Well I guess it's back to the drawing board on finding an open source or freely available video player and CMS with ad solution. Maybe I'll just give up and install WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. The dream of a robust, useful and free video CMS is still just that, a dream. Bits and pieces are coming together here and there. The JWplayer, Kaltura's CMS the Longtail Video AdSolution but they don't quite make a complete picture yet. Being that LongTail is built upon the most popular media player ever and has Jeroen W. on its side, Im sure their working on it.
If you are a business or developer with video players, CMSs, advertising solutions and anything related, just drop me a line and we can talk about me checking out your product ;-)