iOS8 rocks the world of embedded video in email

iphoneEmbed video in email?  Get ready for some big changes.

In July 2014, Liveclicker learned while evaluating a development release of the new iOS8 platform that HTML5 players did not function properly when displayed in a recipient’s native iOS inbox.  Instead, an email marketer using an embedded video in email method via HTML5 would see a video player that, when tapped, did nothing.  Prior to iOS8, tapping on the player would initiate video playback (fullscreen on iPhones in the QuickTime player, and inline on iPads).

At first, there was not much cause for concern.  The problem appeared to be a bug.  Early operating systems are riddled with bugs; I can personally attest to this as I still experience constant crashes and hangups even while using the [currently newest] release of iOS (8.1) on my iPhone 6.

Yet as the production release date of iOS8 drew nearer, Liveclicker’s developers realized there was a very real possibility that this bug would not be patched in time for a production release – or, perhaps – that this wasn’t a bug at all.  Since our RealTime Email platform powers embedded video in email for over 1,100 senders, there was real concern that this issue could derail much of the progress made over the years with embedding video in email. Most B2C senders generate between 60% – 70% of all embedded video plays within the iOS client.

As is the standard business practice at Liveclicker, rather than fret about this development, we turned lemons into lemonade.  Today, Liveclicker’s RealTime Email service is the only solution on Planet Earth enabling one-tap video playback on iOS devices when playback is initiated from within the iOS8 mail client.  And we’ve made the experience even better than before: with the new RealTime Email solution for iOS8, viewers can be routed to a marketer’s chosen landing page after watching a video.  Previously, after watching a video, a viewer would be taken back to the email, where he would have to again click through to a site.

To see what the new experience looks like, check out this series of videos put together by our own Jen Fahey (thanks, Jen!).

iOS8 video experience: check it out.

And for those obsessed with the details, here is a complete comparison of the “old” versus “new” way of managing video within the iOS mail client.

iPhone (old method – embedded)

  • Recipient taps video button in email;
  • QuickTime player launches full-screen;
  • Video plays;
  • When recipient is done watching video, he taps “Done”;
  • Recipient is taken back to the email;
  • Recipient taps through email to arrive at marketer’s chosen landing page;
  • Total Taps Require to watch video: 1
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 3

iPhone (old method – static image)

  • Recipient taps video button in email;
  • Recipient is taken to landing page;
  • Recipient taps play button on landing page;
  • QuickTime player launches full-screen;
  • Video plays;
  • When recipient is done watching video, he taps “Done”;
  • Recipient is taken to marketer’s chosen landing page
  • Total Taps Required to watch video: 2
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 3

iPad (old method – embedded)

  • Recipient taps video button in email;
  • Video plays inline email;
  • Recipient taps through email to arrive at marketer’s chosen landing page
  • Total Taps Required to watch video: 1
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 2

iPad (old method – static image)

  • Recipient taps static image in email;
  • Recipient is taken to landing page;
  • Recipient taps play button on landing page;
  • Video plays;
  • Total Taps Required to watch video: 2
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 2

iPhone (NEW method – embedded)

  • Recipient taps video button in email;
  • Player launches full-screen in Safari “pseudo-page”;
  • Video plays;
  • When recipient is done watching video, he taps “back”;
  • Recipient is taken to marketer’s chosen landing page;
  • Total Taps Required to watch video: 1
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 2

iPad (NEW method – embedded)

  • Recipient taps video button in email;
  • Video plays inline email;
  • Recipient taps through email to arrive at marketer’s chosen landing page
  • Total Taps Required to watch video: 1
  • Total Taps Required to watch video and arrive at landing page: 2

SUMMARY:

In short, the new method is better than the old method. One fewer tap is required to watch a video and reach a landing page on iPhone.  There is no difference in the number of taps required to watch a video and reach the landing page on iPad.  Similarly, the number of taps required to play the video remains unchanged on both devices, something which can not be said of a static-image-first approach.

Still, I think it’s fair to question whether video in email on iOS is now truly embedded.  With the new method, there’s really very little, if any, perceptible change on iPhone.  iPhone video always played full screen when initiated from the mail client. On iPad, while one tap is still all that’s required to play video, it no longer plays inline.  I’ve been struggling with what to call this new experience.  Since there is really nothing else like it, we’ve made the decision at Liveclicker to break out iOS plays into their own new category; neither inline, nor landing page.

Until next time – Happy Selling!

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