Video Marketing Can Be the Most Effective Way to Reach Your Audience

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For the last decade, content marketing has been dominated by video streaming. Whether you’re a comedian posting funny videos to build a following or a business creating an informative product demo to help your viewers, choosing the right type of video message is crucial to boosting views and rankings. Here is a closer look at some of the most popular forms of video marketing for various content types.

Social Videos for Individual Messages or Projects

Streaming media is the foundation on which the social Internet runs. Over the last two years, Twitter and Instagram have piggybacked on the social video marketing success of YouTube and Facebook. Twitter released Vine, which allows the user to post and share six-second videos, while Instagram added video-streaming capabilities to their regular feeds.

The benefit of choosing social video is that it has the ability to reach many people in a short amount of time. If your video is only 30 seconds to a minute long and designed to capture your viewer’s attention within the first five seconds, there’s a better chance of getting more views, likes, and shares.

This type of content marketing is great for short messages, entertainment (i.e., funny videos), and sales messages.

The Birth of the Online Film Is Giving New Life to Video Marketing

There is a misconception that people won’t take time out of their daily routines to watch a video that is more than three minutes long. YouTube was built around this belief and, up until a few years ago, was dominated by it. The Coca-Cola Company has paved the way for those needing to deliver a message that cannot be adequately expressed in under five minutes, but still want to reach their streaming media audiences.

The seven-minute animated video for their new car line was a mixture of important information, humor, and entertaining visuals. It was quickly embraced by viewers and sent across the social media world. Other companies have also taken this route. Some videos have breached the 10-minute mark, reaching up to almost half an hour in length.

This type of video marketing can be tough, but for those with an important message to deliver and a penchant for creativity, the online film may be the answer to avoiding traditional marketing routes. Online films are best suited for extended product sales pitches or for providing a visual checklist of content that appeals to your audience.

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Panda Is The Foundation Of A Psychological Assessment Tool Used For The Department of Defense

Seeking a Developer-Friendly Video Encoding Solution

Adam Hasler builds digital products. He’s the lead developer at The Big Studio, a design-focused consultancy based in Boston. Not only does Adam engage in a lot of design, but he also does all the coding. Like other digital product leaders, Adam Hasler is first and foremost a developer and a designer. When it comes to other projects like video encoding, it’s usually out of scope for a typical day’s work.

Adam’s been working on an app that’s used by psychologists as an assessment mechanism. It’s the project of a psychologist, who’d been applying this assessment framework on paper, and administering it to people that way.

Adam’s task was to build a video quiz where subjects could click on a video and give their feedback. The video quiz component would then record where they clicked, and allow them to give feedback on why that moment resonated for them. Each subject’s feedback would then be compared to that of experts to assess whether or not they could read a situation as well.

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“I needed to build a tool where subjects watching a video could say, ‘There, right there, that thing that happened is what I think is important,’” explains Adam Hasler. “In my first test build, I used a solution that involved uploading a video and running it through a script. It didn’t work. It was a disaster.”

Panda Is The Best Solution

To complete the project, Adam needed to build both a testing and an authoring component. Psychologists needed to be able to write the tests, so there were two user personas in that sense: a tester and a test taker. The tester would always be a psychologist, who wasn’t technologically savvy, so Adam had to make a really good test editing interface. Because of the nature of the project, he needed to:

  1. Upload videos
  2. Have them appear in different formats depending on the browser being used

“I discovered Panda through Heroku, and it ended up being the best solution,” says Adam. “With Panda, psychologists can author an assessment video by dragging and dropping it into a container I built. Panda uploads it, and collects the feedback. We don’t have to worry about uploading 4 different video file types, because Panda encodes the videos to work on different browsers.”

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Panda Delivers Encoded Video To The Department Of Defense

 Thanks to Panda, the project has been highly successful. One of the key user personas is the Department of Defense, which is testing subjects for their response to conflicts.

“Because of the interactivity, I needed more than a video on a page,” explains Adam. “With Panda, I get that beautiful little jSON object back with all the information I would need to make all the difference for this very little, key component. I love Panda! It made my life so much easier. I think it’s so cool.”

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Re-architecting for *real* scale

7 minute read

On the surface, Panda is a pretty simple piece of software – upload a video, encode it into various formats, add a watermark or change frame rate, and deliver it to a data store.

Once you spend some time with it, it begins to show how complex each component can be – and how important it is to continuously improve each one.

Lucy Production Line

When Panda was first built, it worked beautifully, and it was quick! But as time went on, and the volume of videos encoded per day increased, it became obvious that to keep pace with increasing speed requirements from customers, and maintain growth – core parts of the platform were going to need to be rethought.

We started looking at each component piece by piece, to find bottlenecks, optimize throughput and keep a fair operating expense so we could retain our price leadership. Panda might be a software platform – but having read the ‘The Goal‘ by Eli Goldratt about a manufacturing plant really reminded us of the process. (It’s a great read btw).

In July we updated to the most current versions of Ruby and Go – and added a memory cache to tasks that were maxing out our instances. Then we tackled the big scale bottleneck – the job manager.

Our biggest bottleneck: the Job Manager

The Job Manager is built to ensure that our customers video queues get processed as close to real-time as possible, and distributes transcoding jobs to the encoder clusters. Whether it’s 2000 encoders on 8 CPU cores each, or 1 encoder on 1 CPU core it’s important it’s allocated correctly.

It monitors all encoding servers running within an environment, receives new jobs, and assigns them to instance pools.

The Panda Job Manager was a single thread Ruby process, which worked well for quite some time. We noticed it would start struggling during peaks, and we had to do something about it. We started looking at where we could optimize it, by identifying each bottleneck one by one.

It was obvious that events processing was too slow in general, but before we even fired up a profiler, we managed to find a huge one just by looking at logs and comparing timestamps.

Redis Queue Architecture

Short digression: We use Redis queues for internal communication, and there was one such queue where all messages for the manager were being sent. The manager was constantly pooling this queue and most of its work was based on messages it received. Each encoding server had a queue in Redis too, and all these queues were used for communication between the manager and encoders.

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Because a single Redis queue was used for new jobs as well as manager/encoders communication, huge numbers of the former were causing delays in the latter. And a slow down in internal communication meant that some servers were waiting unnecessarily long for jobs to be assigned.

Is Ruby and Redis the Answer?

The obvious solution was to split the communication into two separate queues: one for new jobs and another one for internal messaging. Unfortunately, Redis doesn’t allow blocking reads from more than one queue on a single connection.

We were forced either to implement Redis client that would use non-blocking IO to handle more that one connection in a single thread, or resort to multiple threads or processes. Writing our own client seemed like a lot of work, and Ruby isn’t especially friendly if you’d like to write multithreaded code (well, unless you use Rubinius).

Before trying to solve that, we launched manager within a profiler to get a clearer picture. It turned out that roughly 30% of time was spent at querying the database (jobs were saved, updated and deleted from the DB), and the remaining 70% was just running the Ruby code. Because we were a few orders of magnitude slower that we wished, optimizing neither just the database nor the Ruby code would be enough (and we still had to solve the queues issue). We needed something more thorough that a simple fix. 

Go baby, GO!

gopherWe started by rewriting the manager in Go. We didn’t want to waste time on premature optimization, so it roughly was a 1:1 rewrite, just a few things were coded differently to be more Go-idiomatic – but the mechanics stayed the same.

The result? Those 70% that were previously spent on Ruby code dropped to about 1%! That was great, we got almost 70% speed-up, but we were still nowhere near where we wanted.

Multithreading

Then we fixed the queues issue. With Go’s multithreading model is was so simple that it’s almost not worth mentioning – we even accidentally got a free message pre-fetching in a Go channel (another thread pools Redis and pushes messages to a buffered channel). And this was a huge kick – now we could handle more than 16,000,000 jobs per day per job manager.

We could have pushed it harder, but we still hadn’t even started profiling our new Go code at this point. Golang has great tools for profiling, so rather quickly we were able to go through the bottlenecks (it was database almost all the time). When we decided that it’s enough, we started testing… And we just couldn’t get enough EC2 instances to reach manager’s limit. We ended at about a bit less than 80,000,000 jobs per day and even a sign of sweat wasn’t visible on manager.

The graph below shows the number of videos per day projected from the number of videos processed within the last 30 minutes. We started at a bit more than 1,000,000, then switched to the Golang manager and got to the 80,000,000 limit – but there were no more jobs (we reached our EC2 spot limits while performing the benchmark!), so we might have processed even more (but it should be a safe number for some time).

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The end result of this phase is a technical architecture that clears queues much faster, and for the same encoder price, delivers better throughput and greatly enhanced encoder bursting (especially good during the holiday season where we often have customer that ratchet up activity by 100x!), and more automation. We’re not done yet – and we have some fantastic features coming in 2015 that the new back-end enables us to deliver.

PS. Kudos should also go to Redis – it’s a fantastic, very stable and battle-tested piece of software. Big thanks, Antirez!

Do you have a suggestion or have some knowledge you’d like to share with us? We’d love to hear from you – get in touch support@pandastream.com anytime (we’re 24×7).

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