Like other marketers, you may have often experienced frustrating installation or audio-video related problems with webinar systems as an organizer, a presenter or a simple attendee.
Although HTML5 is not new, the inconsistencies across major browsers on the one hand and the lack of an established browser-based audio-video communication technology on the other, have, until recently, prevented the advent of reliable HTML5 based webinar platforms. The vast majority of current systems still run on outdated web technologies such as Flash or require a software install before use.
Flow is a new platform that not only leverages a 100% browser-based HTML5 interface but also brings innovative concepts such as its Smart Storyboard that allows organizers to create and pre-load their content, then launch different sections of their presentation at the time of their event with a mouse click. You can learn more about Flow at www.flowapp.com but let’s further discuss the differences and benefits of the HTML5 environment over older systems.
The main advantage of systems leveraging HTML5 is the fact the end-users will not have to install any software applications or even browser extensions or plug-ins to access the live (or on-demand) webinar. Remember that HTML in its original form only allowed creation of static or slightly animated content such as web pages. A webinar environment requires many dynamic functions with a persistent connection with a server that pushes content and changes to the browser in real-time in addition to two-way live audio and video (AV) communication. The combination of HTML5 and the WebRTC technology, first introduced by Google Chrome and now supported by Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari, makes a powerful system native to the browser and enabling fully dynamic features and AV transmission.
A native browser-based application also called a web app, is faster to load and run. It is also generally more secure. Another advantage is the fact that you do not need to update any code as the browser always loads the latest and the most up-to-date code. Additionally since web apps appear as a web page, they generally present a familiar interface and browser features such as search or font-size changes, operate the same way as on any website.
How do the audio and video compare with previous solutions? WebRTC, which is the only viable browser native technology for AV communication is remarkably solid and presents high quality, low-latency and light-weight transmission with flawless echo-cancellation. In reality, the WebRTC technology was designed for online meeting environments with peer to peer (P2P) connection. P2P essentially creates a direct two-way channel between each two participants, which functions perfectly for a meeting of a few people. A webinar with only 30 attendees with just one presenter would not be operable using a P2P environment as it would require 30 open channels on the presenter’s browser, effectively saturating the computer with bandwidth and CPU usage. That is a major challenge for webinar platforms that have to get creative by injecting a servers in between and modifying the WebRTC code to comply but that’s probably not a concern of you marketers!
Webinar platforms leveraging HTML5 are the platforms of the future and already present simpler, higher quality and more reliable alternative to older solutions. Future developments will have to regain marketers trust in webinar platforms and offer an environment where organizers can focus on content, engagement & lead generation instead of worrying about the underlying platform.