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Thursday, June 7, 2007

New YouTube Interface for Embedded Videos

Embedded YouTube videos have now received the new interface that had been around for a while, as Daniel Garcia reports in the forum. For a live sample, have a look at the two promotional videos posted here earlier. The time line navigation has been optimized so that you can now jump ahead in a video even if that part hasn’t been loaded yet (Google Video already did this before). The time control is still flaky when it comes to certain details – e.g. jumping back to a specific point in the video by clicking the control doesn’t always work. Also, embedding the code on your own site has been made easier through new buttons displayed at the end of a movie.

The bigger change in this roll-out is the related videos feature; when you hover over certain parts of the video (which may happen accidentally), an array of related videos pops up at the bottom, represented by video stills. Clicking a thumbnail seamlessly opens the new video in the same player. This change might ensure that people stay longer and longer on embedded YouTube content, jumping from clips they wanted to see to clips they didn’t even know existed. As soon as ads are rolled out into embedded YouTube content – something we can be quite certain will happen one of these days as a good way for YouTube/ Google to create revenue from all the free hosting they provide – this will also be a way to expose viewers to more ad time than before.

Whenever changes like these are rolled out, the pros and cons for blogs and other websites to outsource their video content become more visible. On the pro side, you don’t pay any hosting costs, the videos are easy to integrate, and whenever the player is optimized, the optimization rolls out without you having to tweak your code. On the con side, you’re also opening up your website to changes which you never specifically approved (other than all the general legal approvals you give a site by agreeing to their Terms of Service). If one day you decide that all the interface changes, or ads YouTube rolls out, are becoming too distracting for your visitors, the burden of replacing all embedded code and finding another host (if you kept your video files in the first place!) lies on you.


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