All Posts By

Robert Petrossian

Video Captioning and Localization

By | eLearning, Video, Virtual Events

Closed Captioning

We have added closed captioning support for on-demand and simulive events.   To explore the capabilities, follow these steps:

  1. Go to your venue’s Media Library
  2. Upload a video.  After the video is uploaded, you will see a “Processing” label on the video.  Wait till the video has completed this processing.
  3. Select the video. You will see its properties listed in the right hand side column.  Towards the bottom, you’ll see a Closed Caption heading with two sub-menus: Generate and Upload.

Auto-generate Closed Captions

Generate is a machine translation service that automatically generates a CC file for the video in several supported languages. To explore, click on Generate, select your target language and let the engine run.  Within a few minutes, you will see a file listed with that language heading.  That’s the translated CC in that language.  You can generate CCs in multiple languages for the video.

Our supported CC file format is WebVTT with the extension of .vtt.  VTT files are text readable files and editable by any text editor.

Upload Closed Captions

The quality of the auto generated CC files will vary greatly based on the quality of the video audio, speakers’ accents and the technical nature of the conversation in the video.  In general, the auto-generated files are good starting points but will require human review and refinements.  The text in these files can easily be edited and saved.  You can then “Upload” these files under their corresponding language heading.  Uploaded files will overwrite existing CC files.

Default Settings

You can have closed captioning automatically on or off as a user enters a session.   Control this setting for all of your sessions from the Administrative menu’s Session page.  Click on the Default Settings link.

Video Localization: Burned-in Subtitles or Closed Caption

When localizing videos, short of translating the audio, you have two options: burn-in the subtitles into the video, essentially generating a new localized video or use CC in the target language.  The latter is an extremely effective way of localizing, while allowing you to maintain a single version of video in its original audio with no burned in text.

At Engagez (www.engagez.com), we strive to offer the best capabilities for hosting the most effective live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand online events and instructor-led online classes.

Pipeline Acceleration: Webinars vs. Online Events

By | Best Practices, Marketing, Online Events, Virtual Events, Webcasts & Webinars

(Refer to the Infographic)

Online Events, when executed well, have proven effective in nurturing and accelerating prospects’ journey through the different stages of the sales funnel.

Most online events today, however, are conducted as webinars: prospects are invited into a single educational session, with engagements happening as follow ups.

Online event platforms allow you to expand the programming with live and on demand content, collateral, customer testimonials, and case studies.  Attendees get the option to engage with sales, support, engineering and executives for consultation, private demos, technical due diligence and executive commitments.  Combined with personalization, Online Events help attendees access the right content and people, all within the event, resulting in deepening interest and accelerated purchasing cycle.

Contact us, at www.engagez.com, to learn more about the best practices of pipeline acceleration using online events.

Taking Back Control of Buyer’s Journey Through Personalization

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Communication, Marketing

Introduction

Online events have proven successful with many corporate B2B marketers and have become a key component of successful lead generating programs.

The present generation of online events (virtual events) allow producers to take attendees through some of the same experiences as attending a physical event. The virtual event platforms facilitate design of venues using two dimensional graphical reproductions of physical conference and trade show imagery. They use physical event terminology for web pages like conference centers, exhibit halls, and networking lounges. They also support booths and offer extensive line up of live and on demand programming, collateral, professional networking, social media feeds, gaming and many other engagement options.

In this blog post, we’ll review how personalization is key to furthering the nurturing process and engaging attendees with content aimed at their specific interests or issues and where personalization and next generation online events meet.

Time Commitment vs. Scope of Programming

There are several key differences between physical and online events.  One key difference is how attendees allocate time to each. An attendee will commit a day or more to physical events. This makes sense as people typically travel to attend a physical event, making a large financial and time investment. They are also there with an event related calendar that often includes free time to explore unknown elements via chance encounters and discoveries.

For online events, average attendees make shorter time commitments than the entirety of the full conference. Attendees are also more susceptible to interruptions while at work. Online attendees usually plan their time around attending specific talks. Once in the event, attending those talks are the highest priority. In between sessions, the attendees might browse through the rest of the programming, download resources, visit partners/sponsors, or mark items of interest to return to later. Now, it’s not to say that great and highly relevant content online can’t draw and keep an audience engaged for hours long as demonstrated by recurring online events that run for multiple days. However, the organizer must ensure the event delivers highest value not only to those who stay for the entirety of the conference, but also those who can commit a smaller window of time.

This difference in time allocation is one reason quick-bite webinars have enjoyed significant popularity as the online marketing tool of choice. By keeping a webinar duration to an hour or less, the programming fits within what an attendee is able to more easily commit during their busy workday. Thus, webinars are great hooks to bring an attendee in. Where webinars fall short is lack of breadth of programming and limited engagement options, which substantially limits their value as lead nurturing and lead qualification tool.


What’s Next: Personalized Online Events

The next generation of online events will combine the best of these two worlds, limited attendee time and broad programming, through personalization. Once in the event, the attendee will automatically be assigned a relevant account manager for inquiries, receive personalized recommendations on the most relevant not-to-be missed sessions, white papers and collateral, and when available, recommendations on key partners, partner resources and partner contacts for follow up. These recommendations will be machine generated, taking into account attendee profile, demographic and predictive models of what has worked best in the past for ‘alike’ attendees. The personalization will give attendees an immediate sense of relevance and will establish the event organizer as a trusted partner, aiming to educate and help attendees learn the most about their topics of interest as efficiently as possible. The better served the customer, the longer she’ll stay and engage, leading to further nurturing and improved qualification data.

Summary

Today marketers are starting to adopt personalization strategies in their various marketing programs using account-based marketing (ABM), artificial intelligence-based recommendation engines, predictive purchasing models and email drip campaigns. The next generation of online events will utilize variations of these personalization strategies inside an online event, substantially accelerating lead nurturing and guiding attendees through their buying journey, all in a fraction of time it would otherwise take outside the event.

At Engagez (www.engagez.com), we strive to offer the best capabilities for hosting the most effective live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand online events. We are investing heavily in personalization and believe it is a crucial enabler for wider adoption of online events by marketers as the tool of choice for demand generation and guiding customers through their purchasing journey.

Engagez Access Groups – Usage Guide

By | Release Notes & Updates

Introduction

You can now customize which Engagez sessions and resources an attendee can see and access using flexible access control mechanism.  This is a walk through on how to utilize this feature.

Manage Access Groups

Plan on how best to partition your attendees into different groups, to customize the sessions and resources accessible to each.  Try to come up with the least number of groups to ease maintenance over the life of the venue.

Once you have identified the groups, follow these steps:

  1. Under Administer menu, click on Features. Scroll down to the Miscellaneous section and make sure the “Manage Access Groups” is ON.  If not, turn it ON and save.
  2. Under Administer menu, click on Attendees. On top of the Attendees menu, click on Manage Access Groups.  This is where you create and manage your groups.
  3. Type in the name of your groups and click to Add.

    You can view the groups you add at the bottom of the popup, where you can delete, rename and assign automatic assignment rules.  To maintain the accuracy of the access group assignments and reduce the manual up keep, we provide two automatic assignment options per each group: a) Default: if a group has Default turned on, any new venue registrant is automatically assigned to this group.  You can have any number of groups set as Default, b) Auto Email Assignments: you might want to categorize your users based on their email domain name.As soon as a user is successfully registered, we match the domain of their email against any email domains listed for any group here, and if we find a match, that group is assigned to the user.  You can specify the same email domain as a filter for any number of groups.At times, you might need to clear existing access group assignments, define new access groups, and modify auto assignment rules.  The “Existing Attendees” button provides two options to facilitate these tasks: (a) Clear Access Groups: clears all access group settings from existing attendees, (b) Apply Auto Rules: applies the auto assignment rules to each existing attendee right away.Click Done to complete the Access Group setup.

Manage Attendees’ Access

Now that you have defined your access groups, let’s see how to manually manage attendee access groups.

The automatic rules will start working on all new registrants.  Meanwhile, you can maintain your attendees’ access groups from the Attendee page, as shown:

To view members of a specific group, use the Filter feature:


Manage Sessions’ Access

The management of Sessions’ access groups is from the Administer->Sessions page, under “Manage Access”.

Click on it to see a listing of all existing sessions with their current access limitations, if any:

To limit access, click to select the target sessions, and then click on the drop down to select the groups to grant access to. Only attendees assigned to the groups you assign to a session can see and access that session.  A session with no assigned access group is accessible by all.

Manage Resources’ Access

  1. Open the menu in the top right corner of your Resources Panel and select “Manage Access”:
  2. Select the resources you’d like to limit access to and from the top drop down, select the groups that should have exclusive access to them:

Only attendees assigned to the groups you assign to a resource can see and access that session.  A resource with no assigned access groups is accessible by all.

Recommendations

  • Email Validation: If you are using auto email assignment rules to assign groups to attendees at registration time, we recommend you enable email validation option in the Administer Registration and Sign In section to ensure the emails entered are valid.
  • Testing: We recommend you create a few test attendee accounts. Assign each different access groups and sign in as each to confirm your expected behavior.

Contact Us 

To learn more or schedule a demo, drop us an email at [email protected] or contact us at www.engagez.com/contact .

Engagez Livestream – Setup and Use Walk Through

By | Release Notes & Updates

Introduction

The power of Engagez is the breadth of its broadcasting and interactivity options, giving you the utmost flexibility in planning your online engagements with your audience.   You can setup your venue sessions as live broadcasts, on-demand videos or combination of.  When live, you can use Engagez Livestream, Engagez Simulive, or your favorite webinar tools.

Engagez Livestream is a highly scalable and adaptive solution, allowing your attendees to attend and participate in your live webcast, using any device, and from any corner of the world.

What follows is a walk through on how to setup and use Engagez Livestream.

Software Requirements – Encoder

You need live streaming software, and an encoder to take the desktop or camera feed and send it to Engagez, which would then stream the video to all the connected attendees.

There are several good options to choose from.  The best choice for you will depend on your technical know-how and whether using Mac or Windows.  There is a free open source choice called OBS, (https://obsproject.com/).  This is a powerful tool, best suited for more technically inclined users.  Our recommendation is one of these three fee-based solutions:

We mostly use Wirecast for our production work and that’s what we have used below for documenting the live streaming process.

Hardware Requirements

For testing, most notebooks will do fine.  However for production purposes, you must use a high end notebook/desktop PC, exclusively dedicated to run the streaming software.   Refer to your streaming solution’s recommended hardware specifications.  High bandwidth internet with uninterrupted connectivity is a must.

Session Setup

Once you have setup your venue, follow these steps to setup your session(s) for live streaming:

  1. Create the session that will host your livestream
  2. Schedule it with a future date, set its Live Webcast type to Livestream and save it.
  3. Go to Admin->Session, and click on Manage Livestream menu
  4. Your session is automatically assigned to the Default Each stream is like a TV channel which receives the live stream from a streaming source.  If you have scheduled simultaneous live sessions or need to broadcast from different physical locations, you will need to create additional streams.  Otherwise, just use the Default stream.
  5. While “Default” is the selected stream, click on “Encoder Connection Settings” link.  The parameters you need to configure your streaming software to connect to Engagz servers are listed there.
  6. In the “Assign Stream to Upcoming Sessions”, you will see your session listed.  Confirm that the session is assigned to the “Default” stream.
  7. You now have a session scheduled for a time in the future, and a stream assigned to the session, ready to receive live data.

Setup the Encoder (Streaming Software)

We use Wirecast to demonstrate how to connect your encoder to the stream you have assigned to your session.   If you are using other tools than Wirecast, look for similar configuration settings within their menu structures.

  1. In your Engagez Administer menu, click on Sessions and open Manage LiveStream. Select the target stream, and click on “Encoder Connection Settings”:
  2. Start Wirecast. Configure the source based on what you will be broadcasting. You can select a webcam, an external camera or your entire desktop or a window.  To configure, in the bottom portion of the main screen, click on the first “+” sign and add your webcam or Screen Capture as source.
  3. Now let’s configure the connection settings. Under the Output menu, click on Output Settings.
  4. Select RTMP Server.  Set “Address” and “Stream” to your stream’s “RTMP Server” and “Stream Name” values:
  5. Click on Set Credentials, and assign Username and Password to Source Username and Source Password:

Start Broadcasting

  1. In Manage Livestream, while your stream is selected, click on the green button to “Start Livestream”.  Now Engagez is ready to receive the video stream.
  2. In Wirecast, confirm that whatever you have selected as source is being shown in the preview window:|
  3. When ready, in the Output menu, click on “Start/Stop Broadcast” to initiate the broadcast
  4. Back in EZ, in Manage Livestream, view the Preview player where the green button used to be and wait for it to show your stream.  There could be a 20-30 sec delay till you start seeing the video.
  5. Once you see your camera output in the player, go back into your session to view your attendees’ experience.

End Broadcasting

  1. At the end of the broadcast, go back to Manage Livestream in your venue.  Click “End Live Stream”.  This will stop Engagez from receiving additional data and will start preparing the recording.  Wait till your recording shows up with “Completed” status. Click to refresh in case the listing is not showing up after a few minutes. Once completed, you can now download the video to edit before uploading it to your target destination for on demand viewing.
  2. You can start and stop the stream any number of times, and each time, the last recording will get added to the recordings listing here.

Note: Plan on testing several times before you actually do a live program to a real audience so that you are familiar and comfortable with the process.

 

Contact Us

To learn more or schedule a demo, drop us an email at [email protected] or contact us at www.engagez.com/contact .

Simulive: Bringing Recorded Presentations to ‘Live’

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events, Webcasts & Webinars

A simulated live webinar, “simulive”, is a scheduled webinar which streams a pre-recorded presentation while allowing organizers to engage with the audience in real time using interactive tools.

In case you have not looked into simulive before, there are key advantages that are worth your consideration:

1. Ease of Coordinating Schedules

Your webinar presenters are all busy professionals, located in different offices, different cities and countries.  Finding the one time slot convenient for all which fits your marketing schedule can be a daunting task. With simulive, you coordinate the timing of the recording at the presenters’ convenience, and then broadcast the recording as live at a time convenient for your target audience.

2. Reducing “Live” Production Risks

Should we even elaborate more?!  We all have scars on our backs with production issues that happen from time to time during a live webinar.  Whether it’s presenter delays, networking and audio problems, or incorrect downloaded presentations, these degrade the attendee experience and leave a bad mark on our brands.  With simulive, you can avoid many of these problems, by pre-recording highest quality presentation, and then broadcasting it live from the cloud.

3. Addressing Globally Dispersed Customers and Prospects

Agreeing on the best time to schedule a live webinar to address the east, central and west coast US time zones is already a challenge.  What about the rest of the world? Simulive is a perfect solution that enables you to schedule the same presentation multiple times, using a recording of the original, each optimally timed for a specific region of the world.

4. Increasing Rate of Return on Marketing Spend

Simulive allows you to leverage a presentation recording multiple times, hence increasing your utilization of an asset you have already committed time and money to.  Meanwhile, the “live” nature of simulive increases the attendance, and substantially improves viewership, compared to on-demand utilization of the same video.

5. Engagement of Attendees

Perhaps even more important than increased viewership, simulive sessions give you the opportunity to engage with the attendees in real time, through online chat with staff, Q&A with experts, surveys and polls.  Engagement data is crucial in your follow up strategies, and simulive is a powerful way of collecting more.

Now, you might be thinking “hey, I see the advantages for the organizer!  But how about the attendees? How would they react if they knew the “live” session they are attending is pre-recorded?”.

Based on our experience, the attendees don’t care as long as the following expectations are met: (i) the presentation delivers fresh and high quality content on the advertised topic, and (ii) they can ask presenters questions and expect timely answers.   When these expectations are met, simulive is a win for all!

At engagez.com, we take pride in our simulive offering. Our customers use Engagez not only for simulive but also to host live, and on-demand events.   We view simulive not as an alternative to live webinar but as a lower-cost means of offering more frequent live programming. Our calendaring mechanism further allows an organizer to mix and match live, simulive and on-demand sessions and create comprehensive and engaging events.  These events expand the concept of a traditional webinar, offering attendees more content and higher educational value, while increasing their engagement opportunities.

Best Practices for Hosting Video on Demand

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events

We have come a long way from the days when hosting a video was simply putting a file on a shared drive and letting people download it. First with desktop players, we were able to play the video directly from a shared drive. This was a step forward but still painful since the initial players had to download the entire file before starting to play, hence costly and slow. The next generation of players were embedded within your HTML pages and were able to cache and start the video with some delay without having to wait for the full download. This somewhat improved the video experience but was not as helpful if you wanted to consume the content by jumping around the video. The shortcomings of these approaches were only magnified as the popularity of mobile devices exploded, leading to further challenges in maintaining a steady internet connectivity speed.

Today, the best practices of serving high quality VOD have substantially evolved. You experience these best practices when consuming videos on the largest of service providers like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, etc. What is not obvious to the consumer is the amount of computational work and process flow that goes on behind the scenes in preparing an uploaded video file for that smooth viewing experience. These providers are addressing the consumers insatiable desire for flawless playback experience and ease of navigating/jumping within videos, on any device, and in most connectivity situations. As the cost of adopting these best practices become more affordable, more and more service providers will adopt them over time, yet many are not there yet.

As you evaluate the best solutions for your VOD needs, consider the following best practices and whether they are adopted by your service provider:

1. Transcoding

Having a single high quality video file does not translate into best consumption experience: depending on the situation, it could translate into wasted bandwidth for those on desktop/notebooks with high internet connectivity and poor to unusable experience for mobile users and those with slower internet speeds. The best practice is to transcode the original file, generating multiple versions of it, each with its own optimized streaming segmentations, bitrates, bit depths, and framing policies, targeting differing internet connectivity situations. This process is usually performed as part of the video upload process, prior to making the VOD available for viewing.

2. Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Once you have adaptive bitrate versions of the video, your player and the server need to communicate with each other to leverage the most suitable content. Over the last few years, the best practice communication protocols between the client players and the host servers have evolved into streaming models that work over HTTP across wide distributed networks. These protocols are designed specifically to take advantage of “adaptive bitrate” optimized server content, hence referred to as “adaptive bitrate streaming”.

Adaptive bitrate streaming protocols are superior to delivering a static video file at a single bitrate.  As depicted in the image above, the video stream can be switched midstream to be as good or bad as the client’s available network speed.  It continuously adapts to any changes to the client’s network and CPU situations. To see the advantage of this approach, compare this to the buffering or interruption in playback that would happen when client’s network either did not support the quality of the native video, or the network load kept on changing based on changes to the mobile signal strength or others’ activities on the same network.

There are several implementations of adaptive bitrate streaming. If compatibility across diverse devices are important to you, then MPEG-DASH and Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) are the two most widely adopted implementations available across most devices and OSs.

3. Timeline Thumbnails

The ability to locate with ease the portions of interest within a lengthy video is a high value need by video consumers, especially in the B2B space. One feature that is very helpful in this regard is the ability to move the mouse along the video timeline and seeing the frame thumbnail images of that spot in the video. The smoothness of the frame updates as you traverse the mouse over the timeline are critical in making this capability useful and attractive to users.

4. Use of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If you have a large and global audience, using CDN for video delivery will go a long way in removing latency and delivering a smooth experience for all users, regardless of physical location.

At engagez.com, we take pride in our implementation of these video best-practices. Our customers use Engagez to host live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand events. Most live events also transition to on-demand after its completion and stay open for a period of time for further audience engagement. During setup, when you upload videos, whether for on-demand or simulive, we apply these best practices and ensure smoothest possible user experience for your attendees.