In part I of this series, I discussed streaming audio which is the most mature of the streaming techniques. Just as surely as television followed radio, the rapid advancement of Internet technology now makes it possible to add high resolution images to your audio presentations on the web; they can even be designed to that your images change with audio cues.
Let’s backtrack for just a moment. Until recently, the only way to change images on a web site was by using the meta refresh tags or employing a Java applet. The meta refresh tag’s reliability is highly dependent on connection speed, and the Java applet is very picky when it comes to choosing the browser with which it likes to work. And, more importantly, neither one of these can handle audio. Now, however, by using the technology developed by RealNetworks, any number of images can be added to your audio presentations and streamed from your site. Visitors to your site are now able to view high resolution, quality pictures while enjoying near CD quality sound. Best of all, it streams smoothly over a 28.8 connection.
I have to issue a word of caution here. Don’t confuse streaming slides with streaming video. There is a big difference! (Streaming video will be the topic of Part III of this series.) Streaming slides consist of still images that can change over time or in sync with an audio script. You can utilize existing photos, graphic images, and quality line art for your slide show. (Most encoding companies will also be able to supply television type still graphics at a very low cost if you need assistance in that regard.) Due to the flexibility of streaming slides, your sales presentations take on a whole new look and give your web site personality.
You can now show your products in an entirely different light. Instead of trying to describe unique and/or desirable features with only text or audio, you can actually zero in on those important selling points with pictures! (The old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” takes on new meaning on the Internet.) Prospective buyers can now more closely examine products that are usually difficult to sell over the web, due to the desire of consumers to “touch and feel.” This adds a great deal of credibility to your sales pitch and to your web based business. (Items like antiques, furniture, sporting goods, and apparel fall easily into this category.)
I have to take a moment to mention the impact that streaming slides can have for realtors and homebuilders. With so much real estate activity taking place over the web today, imagine the sales edge that a good slide show could have by showcasing the property’s outstanding features. Add an audio that discusses the availability of nearby schools, shopping, transportation, and entertainment, as well as available financing for the property, and you have a property that will surely sell. You will probably also have very grateful and happy buyers, especially if they are trying to locate suitable properties from a city or town far away.
Several publications have called streaming slides a true attention getter! All it takes to put together a streaming slide show is gathering your images on disk, photo or paper. Get your audio cassette ready or have a script available. (Most encoding companies can provide voice talent if necessary.) In your script you will indicate where the slide changes are to occur, or you will provide audio cues on your cassette tape for this to happen. Information will also have to be provided on the sequencing of the pictures. Your encoding company will prepare and digitize your media and send you web ready files or they will offer hosting on their own servers.
Small businesses have always dreamed of having access to expensive media so that they could promote their products tastefully and with style. Now they can at very reasonable costs…and with the 365/24/7 capability that only the Internet can offer. The creative possibilities of marketing with streaming media are endless; streaming slide shows are only one of the many options available to small business.
Author: Gina Hutchings
Copyright Lunar Media Inc
Chicago Web Design