Rhode Island School of Design: A Case of Valuing Video with Brightcove

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The Solution
Brightcove has traditionally provided online video services for media companies. But like web delivery of video, Brightcove continues to evolve. As organizations increasingly see the value of video as a marketing tool, Brightcove's business has started to shift. Jeff Whatcott, SVP of marketing for Brightcove, says customers such as RISD have "similar but slightly different needs than the media customers." For one thing, they often need to customize the players to more thoroughly integrate them into an individual site. However, with offerings ranging from Basic to Enterprise, Brightcove offers solutions for companies and organizations of any size.

The Basic package, made with small businesses in mind, offers tools to get a professional video offering up and running. The Pro edition (the edition RISD uses) offers more customization features and allows for Brightcove Experience Markup Language (BEML) scripting and for access to read and write APIs on the back-end server, among other things. The aptly named Enterprise edition is designed for customers that need to manage multiple channels of videos across a variety of websites.

"We needed a system we could really get our hands on. We have a design-savvy user," says Meier of RISD's requirements for its vendor. Customization wasn't the only thing on his mind, however. One of the big selling points for Meier was Brightcove's ability to build and manage playlists that would then automatically populate players across the site. This simple feature had the potential to save untold amounts of time for RISD staff.

Whatcott says Brightcove offers different levels of toolkits for people with different levels of coding experience. In other words, organizations can do as much or as little customization as they like. Whatcott also stresses Brightcove's commitment to working with partners: "We embrace a partner ecosystem ... with companies that build extensions and integrations with our product."

The Outcome
RISD signed up with Brightcove in June 2008, after taking time to play around with the tool to see exactly how it would work with the video the school already had. Meier says that by August, the implementation process was complete. "The help section was fantastic," says Meier. He adds that his team spent more time experimenting with compression of the videos than it did with the rest of the process.

Now that RISD has a home for all of its videos in one central channel, Meier is able to spend less time managing content and more time creating it. With Brightcove, each player exists on a page. And while the player always exists, the video can change. Simply tagging content with certain keywords is enough to trigger the system to add that video to a specific player. With the ability to create playlists and automatically shuffle the videos or indicate which video should play first, Meier no longer has to individually address each player every time he wants to make a change.

All that extra time has paid off. Meier says, "We've been able to populate channels on multiple websites ... and have launched two microsites with Brightcove-both of which won Webby Awards."

It seems some of the viral aspects of Brightcove's players have been paying off as well. "We've gotten a lot of traffic. A lot of blogs have been linking to us in regards to the rich media we have here," says Meier.
The newest project to hit the RISD site is student-generated video. "Basically what we're thinking about doing is extending the publishing outward," says Meier. He wants students, professors, and others to be able to publish their assets to the system. RISD has started giving cameras to students and allowing them to create their own videos.

Because Brightcove allows for multiple users-each with their own individual set of rights-to upload content, it is possible for people across all of RISD's departments to contribute. However, Meier sees one challenge to this effort: "How can we make sure we brand [the content] in a way to make sure the RISD signature is there?" The solution he has come up with is to have Brightcove automatically insert a bumper at the beginning of these videos and a slate at the end. "That's the kind of thing we would never be able to develop here," he says.

While the implementation of Brightcove has certainly made a difference in the way Meier and his team work, it has also changed the way viewers use the RISD site. "It's a more engaged user experience," says Meier, who sees more viewers clicking through and sticking around to watch more videos. Brightcove's metrics reporting functions have also allowed Meier to see which types of videos are the stickiest and to make decisions about how to best allocate resources in order to make content viewers will appreciate.

Now that Brightcove has changed the way the media and partners division deals with its assets, RISD is undertaking a redesign of the websites. Combining this redesign with the ability to have other users upload video will allow for more subject-specific content on the site, such as videos about architecture on the architecture page. "We're going to take a very, very close look at how we're going to more strategically place our videos," says Meier.

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