It goes without saying that an online presence is essential for the success of almost any modern media company, whether it's a local institution like a radio or television station or a national brand. Unfortunately, the bewildering array of standards, technologies, and platforms available for content management makes establishing a solid foothold in the digital arena as daunting as it is valuable. With the Oct. 27 release of Spotlight, a video hosting and management platform with social media features, developer Reality Digital is hoping to remove some of that confusion.
"We take a high-tech, high strategy approach," says CEO and co-founder Cynthia Francis. "There's a whole group of people for whom a professional services-based approach is going to be important." According to Francis, Reality Digital built on its experience with its existing Opus and Harmony social media platforms to develop a video-oriented solution that could be tailored to fit the many different needs of content creators without becoming a costly or complicated endeavor.
"One of the things we tried to do with Spotlight is to make it ridiculous easy," says Francis. The service operates through a unified website that brings hosting, playlist management, and code generation together in a single location. Other features such as thumbnail creation and analytics are also accessed through the same site. Content is organized into playlists, each of which can be configured separately, although the same content can appear across multiple lists. At release, the platform works with all major video formats, including Quicktime, MPEG, and Windows Media.
Once a customer has uploaded videos to the site and constructed a playlist, Spotlight automatically generates a block of code for the video player. This code can be inserted directly into the customer's site like any other website element, without the need for excessive redesigns or major overhauls. The look and style of Spotlight's video player can also be customized to remain consistent with a site's existing branding and format.
Advertising content is managed in much the same way as videos, with options to play ads either before, after, or between individual videos. Reality Digital also has plans to integrate third-party services like DoubleClick and Google AdSense into the platform in the future.
As the latest addition to Reality Digital's catalog, Spotlight has clear roots in the company's existing line of social media products. Like the company's Opus platform, it will function on the Software-as-a-Service model, allowing companies to deploy the platform with a minimum investment of cost and time and pay for it on a monthly or annual basis. It also includes many of the content management features found in Opus, and Francis notes that there's "not a big jump" between the two offerings, despite their differing roles.
Another of Reality Digital's goals was to let users take advantage of social media networks to share and discuss content - no surprise, given that the company has builts its catalog around social media. Users can share Spotlight videos through Facebook, Digg, YouTube, MySpace, and Delicious, as well as through more conventional means like email and RSS feeds. "It's the socialization piece that's the most valuable for many of our customers," explains Francis.
The platform can also generate various metrics about the videos. In addition to tracking the number of times a video has been viewed, the platform examines total viewing time and bandwidth consumption for both video and advertising content. Rather than simply displaying this information as raw numbers, Spotlight can be made to generate graphs and visual aids for selected metrics and then aggregate them so that users can perform side-by-side comparisons - for instance, examining which videos have been watched the most within a particular playlist or category.
On top of Spotlight's features and flexibility, Francis thinks that its customers will benefit simply by being able to get an entire video platform up and running in one fell swoop: "They get to work with a single vendor."