Video in email: is HTML5 the saviour?

Up until now, video in email meant going through a lot of trouble for you as the sender: it means optimizing for many clients, providing fallback for the email clients that don’t support your media and much more. The time and effort were most of the time not worth it: the resulting animated gifs (streaming or not) were not very pretty to see, because the gif standard is limited to 256 colors. This could all change in the near future however, with the arrival of HTML5: a new definition of HTML including many cool sets of support for video (sadly currently on Mac only).
Below is an example of an HTML5 video in email:

I recently talked to Anna Yeaman from about this: I noted that I expected webclients including Hotmail and GMail to support HTML5 fully very soon (good news for video in email), probably even within the next six months. Anna replied to me with why I’d think that would happen so fast, and I said because both Microsoft and Google own the browsers (Internet Explorer and Chrome, respectively) that facilitate webmail clients and are currently racing to getting the best technology support in their browsers.
Of course, even with HTML5 support in the biggest webclients (combined, Hotmail and GMail serve about 500 million email addresses) we’re not there yet: a huge chunk of the business market uses offline clients like Microsoft Outlook and others. In this case, a fallback option is still needed, but we’re finally getting a bit more space for rich media in email. More on HTML5 video and email can be found on this blog post.

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4 thoughts on “Video in email: is HTML5 the saviour?

  1. Surely the fall back option for clients like Outlook would be the ‘poster’ attribute that would click through to the video hosted on the sender’s site.
    I believe that the latest version of Outlook’s built in browser view link is an admission that the know Outlook does not cut it and it was a deliberate gesture from them to convey that.
    Subsequently I believe there is hope that MS Word’s renderer will be improved to enable the compatibility that we require.
    Also if Return Path does acquire goodmail, apart from the obvious monopoly issues it could mean better compliance across the board but for a price?

  2. Yes indeed, it should always be linked – regardless of the fact whether the video is displayed in HTML5 object frame or in a fallback option.
    Outlook’s limited support (because of Word as the render engine) is backfiring now – I even hope Microsoft will fully ditch it in favour of IE as render engine (regardless of the version installed on one’s computer). This solves a lot of problems, limitations and headaches instantly.
    On the Return Path vs Goodmail part: agreed with compliance <> price. It will have the advantage of bigger support for such rich media in clients, but it probably will not come cheap.

  3. Cheers for the mention Remy… as you said right now HTML5 is limited to the Mac platform and Entourage. Worth testing if you have a large subscriber base using Apple products. Like Andy said you can always fallback to a still for Outlook 2007/10 or a VideoGif for clients that support Gifs.
    I think longer than 6mths for HTML5 in webmail clients, we should do a bet 🙂
    Will be interesting to see if anything happens with Goodmail and Return Path though.

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