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Video email is the term for the use of email to send videos such that the recipient feels the video is being watched inside the email.[clarification needed] This is differentiated from a video file as an email attachment or a hyperlink to video elsewhere on the internet. In contrast to text emails, videos of people talking allows for nonverbal communication which is considered 55% of all communication.
The significance of video email has emerged with the final recommendation of the HTML5 video standard by World Wide Web Consortium on October 28, 2014. Html5 introduces a video element that allows video content in an email to be displayed in place. As adoption of the new standard is implemented in email client and webmailsystems, the use of embedded video email is expected to grow.
The first step in sending a video email is the creation of the video file. Videos can be professionally produced or create through low-cost methods using a camera, webcam, or a phone video camera. Typically, videos having a broader audience often involve higher production costs whereas personal videos that may only be viewed one time or by few persons, can employ inexpensive recording devices.
Video files are created by an application called a video codecs which outputs compressed file in a specific format. During video editing, videos can be interlaced with other graphics or video clips. A common technique involves overlaying the video with another transparent video which would have clickable spots permitting the viewer to take an action, called a call to action. Call to actions can occur in the middle of a video or at the end providing the viewer with the next action to be taken, such as opening a webpage, an order form, an email, a survey, or a live chat session.
Most video emails do not include the actual video file as an attachment to the email because attachment size limits. The most common technique is to have the video file uploaded to a video hosting service. The uploaded file can have metadata attached to it identifying the creator, video codec used, channel and other tags. The video hosting service often encodes the video in to multiple formats to permit efficient display on variety of devices like desktop browser or lower resolution mobile devices. Video hosting services offer low latency, high bandwidth, minimum network hops, multiple encoding formats, and backup.
The hosting service will then allow for entering the recipient email addresses, email title, text before or after the email, and signature. The hosting service then sends the email on behalf of the sender so that it looks like it originated from the sender.
Some video email services offer the sender engagement analytics such as if the video has been watched, how many times, the IP address of the viewers, portions of video watched, skipped, or repeated. Such engagement data helps the sender measure the impact of the video.
Video emails are employed in the following broad categories:
- Inclusion of a video posted previously on a video sharing service.
- Inclusion of a video posted on a company website. Such a video would be content specific to that company, its products and services. Emails of general video allow for the proactive distribution of content versus videos on a website which are passive, waiting for a viewer to initiate seeing them.
- Inclusion of a mass personalization video which incorporates viewer-specific information inside a general video. In such a video, the viewer would feel that the video contained personal information within a general content video and thus uniquely created for the viewer.
- Personal videos which involve someone speaking directly to the viewer for either personal, business, or accessibility reasons. Due to their disposable nature, such videos involve rapid, low-cost production techniques employing a webcam or smartphone. Such videos can be useful in telesales situations, interpersonal, or social media and dating websites. Video email allows people with physical disabilities to communicate more easily. This can include amputees, who otherwise would have problems communicating and typing. For those that have difficulty reading and typing, video email is another use of communication that might be more accessible.
The primary benefit of video email is to leverage the power of video to communicate more information quicker and more effectively than a text email through the use of motion and nonverbal communication. The wide proliferation of high internet bandwidth and the final HTML5 standards have established the technological preconditions for increased use of video email.
Sending video email allows for the recipient to have an easier time understanding the sender. Although they cannot respond in real time, in most cases they are able to send another video email back in response. Video email eliminates the need for typing and composition, which may be difficult for some people. It eliminates the requirement of proofreading, and concerns about how a text email may be interpreted. People can use tone of voice and physical expressions to help a message come across more clearly.
The HTML5 video function does not limit video length, quantity of videos in an email, or operating system.
Html4 markup language, in use since 2000, doesn't support multimedia elements natively. Html4 email systems typically simulate embedded video in email by having an embedded image (gif) which appears like a frame from a video. Clicking on the image causes a hyperlink to be launched in a browser window to display a video using the browser's video codec or a rich internet application like Adobe Flash. Many codecs and rich internet applications are not natively supported in browsers and require browser extensions to operate which can impede embedded video display.
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- Albert Mehrabian, 'A Semantic Space for Nonverbal Behavior' (1970) 35(2) Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 248.