I just got sent this link internally to go to a presentation about....video in email?! I thought this was not possible?
Has anyone heard of these guys or the technology?
We've heard recently about this technology, but we've not yet seen it in action. It seems to be embedding code into the emails, but right now we don't have much more insight into it.
We'll keep an eye out for more information.
Looks like they are using embedded video...I would be interested to see if they have it working in Outlook 2007 and Gmail. When I tried my own embedded video tests - see here http://stylecampaign.com/blog/?p=29 - the results were uneven. Gmail and Outlook 2007 did not play in the inbox....
I would love to know more, but companies tend to be closed mouthed about their technology...has anyone used vismail? Even if they get it running in all email clients, files sizes are still going to be huge. They have an impressive client list though...
I know you guys at CM have been busy with the big launch coming up, but I would love to see an embedded video test.
Thanks for the replies. The guys over there reckon a 50% success rate but I'm dubious. Will be getting some tests sent over so I'll keep you in the loop.
I just received 4 different tests in Gmail and Outlook (2003).
All of the emails had large wmv attachments, around 700k, but not one of them, in either client displayed anything other than a 'click here to view video' where the video should have played.
One of the oddest parts was in one of the emails, an instruction about the video area said 'Brush your mouse over the black box'. Not only did it not work, but what on earth is brushing your mouse? Have a look at the example
Anyway, think I'll wait til this works in 2 of the most common email clients.
Thanks for the information Ian - seems like they might be overselling their capabilities a bit. 'Brushing your mouse' is a new one! In their marketing materials they also refer to 'mouse rubs'.
I agree about waiting. Sounds like they still have not cracked Outlook 2007 and Gmail. I sent them an email myself but have not heard anything yet...
Vismail called me, they were very upfront about their limitations. It does not work in Outlook 2007, Mac or most web based email clients. But it does work in earlier versions of Outlook, the 3 tests they sent me all played in my inbox. They had the mouse rubs going on again :)
They did not include a link to a web version, so I can't post them here. They do have a forward link, so If anyone wants a look, just drop me an email ( anna at stylecampaign.com ) and I'll send them on.
They told me,"While not perfect, it is better than anything else out there". They have proprietary compression software, and ways to get their images past the image blockers? When I pushed them on that I got nowhere. Maybe they are embedding the images also?
If you used http://fingerprintapp.com, and found that you had say 50% of users on earlier versions of Outlook. It might be worth trying this out, the holidays is a good time to get adventurous!
It easy to doubt this stuff, but its worth a test. If anyone does let me know how it goes...
p.s. Happy Thanksgiving if you're in the US
One important question, the way I see it, is if it lets you add alternative/fallback content.
If so, you can use a linked screenshot as fallback, and you're way better off..
I just sent the video email from my Outlook account, to my gmail account. It does not play, but you get a fallback screenshot with a, "Click here to view" link. It takes you to this landing page:
You can forward yourself a copy from the link above...see if it plays in your inbox.
Yep, again, it didnt work in gmail our outlook 2003.
Chad White of the RetailEmailBlog just received his first embedded video email from Sears. They used http://www.vhdtechnology.com/ you can send yourself a test from the homepage. I just did and it plays in my Outlook 2000 account.
Not sure if vhdtechnology has a wider reach than Vismail, let me know if it works in Outlook 2003...
Chad's post here: http://tinyurl.com/5753du
Thanks for sharing Anna.
I just sent myself a test campaign, as I was very skeptical of this technology. Sure enough, the email arrived and the video started playing (in Apple Mail). As soon as I checked the message source though, I realized what was happening. They haven't got Flash video to work in email, instead they're basically just including a very large animated jpg. The sample I received had about 150 frames to it, and was over 2MB.
Here's the image itself:
This is certainly nothing new, in fact animated images have been around for more than 15 years. We've also done a study on which clients support animated images before. Every client we tested besides Outlook 2007 supported them, and that usually showed the first frame instead.
Basically, these guys aren't on to anything new, you can easily convert any movie into an animated image, it usually just results in a larger file size and lower quality version. The animation will always play by default, and you can't include sound. But, it does have the plus that it will at least display in most email clients. Their claim that "this exciting new marketing technique brings life, entertainment and interactivity to your e-mails" is just slick (and slightly misleading) repackaging of a very old technology.
I did not think to check the source, I just assumed it was embedded video. That's nuts a 153 frame animated gif! So it will run in every email client except Outlook 2007...no wonder they don't offer sound like Vismail. It is slightly misleading...
Chad wrote an update http://tinyurl.com/5753du, the email raised $135,861 over the weekend, everyone is referring to it as embedded video...
I spoke with Duane Seon, the chief technology officer at VHD Technology, today and he confirmed that their technology is indeed streaming video, NOT an animated gif (even if that's what it looks like when you try to extract it). You can read more about how Sears used VHD's technology here:
Chad spoke to Duane Seon, VHD’s CTO, who stated that their technology is indeed streaming video, not a kind of animated gif. He said, “An animated gif is limited to 256k colors and we are streaming in millions and our frame rate is a lot faster than a gif.
Duane goes onto say, "When people take a look at the way it works they think it's an animated gif, but if they tried to create a "video" gif the quality would be poor, slow and the file would be extremely heavy...we are streaming the video using the standard img html tags"
Read Chad's update here http://tinyurl.com/5753du
What do you make of that?
I think its cool technology whatever they are doing...I'm off to try and convert a video file to gif!
(Me and Chad submitting posts at the same time..sorry for double the info!)
Chad and Anna, thanks so much for chiming in with the additional information from VHD.
An animated gif is limited to 256k colors and we are streaming in the millions and our frame rate is a lot faster than a gif.
I've looked into this a little more and to be honest I'm still very skeptical. I've had a look at different frames of the Geisha sample image and each is using no more then 256 colors and is heavily compressed. Also, if you change the file format from .jpg to .gif and open it up in an image editor, it's looks to be exactly like an animated gif.
In regards to frame-rate speed, most browsers and email clients support a frame-rate of 10 frames/second (most actually support much faster speeds of up to 100 per second if your CPU can handle it), more than enough to replicate the quality of this animation. When I looked into this sample a little more, funnily enough, it was 10 frames/second.
Another thing to keep in mind, browsers and email clients have support for a very limited number of image/video formats. If this is served up as an image, it's an image, not a new kind of streaming format pretending to be an image.
I'd love to be proven wrong here, but as yet I haven't seen anything to indicate this is any more than a standard animated gif. If Duane or anyone from the VHD team has more to share, please add your thoughts. You could prove me wrong instantly by showing me a sample that actually has millions of colors at a decent frame rate.
Just as a follow up, I can 100% confirm the image in the email is in fact a regular old animated gif image. Here's the proof:
VHD sure have some explaining to do.
I just converted an AVI video file into an animated gif using Pro Motion software. Runs at a decent speed and has a custom palette for every frame, so 256 colors is not an issue...
I took out every other frame and it ran more smoothly, and cut the file size down.
Its quite long, 25 seconds and 3.44mb
I don't have much video on my system. This is around 10yrs old my first attempt at visual effects!
Like you mentioned you can rename a gif file jpg and it still runs like a gif...
I see no difference between this and what VHD are doing?
Based on this test and looking at the VHD code I'm with you Dave, It's an animated gif...
Great work Anna, thanks for going to all that trouble. I'm looking forward to hearing VHD's explanation. Hopefully they'll chime in soon.
I guess were not going to hear from VHD...
I've been playing around with converting video to animated gif since the quick test I posted here. I put together a demo email you can forward yourself from this post (sent using CM):
It's an animated gif, so will play in all email clients except Outlook 2007 (shows only the first frame)
I can see myself using "video gifs" as teasers for full length videos or for enhanced product shots in email...
What do you think, is this a feasible way to deliver "video" via email?
Great stuff guys, glad we got to the bottom of this!!
As a quick update, we've just published a full report on video support across all the popular email clients:
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and input, this topic was one of the main motivators to do the research in the first place.
I was asked by a client to review this product http://www.vestic.net/
I have seen video in e-mail (Flash delivery) but wondering if you guys see anything compelling about this particular product. I have demo e-mails that have been sent, and video opens in some browers, not in others (like anything else) but wondering about their technology.
And so we emerge into the bright lights of a new year, brimming with fresh ideas and fresh energy. (Hopefully.) What will 2009 bring? Video email for one. (Possibly.)
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