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Brightcove and FreeWheel are announcing a partnership today that will bring better ad-management and tracking data to publishers that want to utilize HTML5 video. This move further blurs the lines between Flash and HTML5, at least in the context of web video.

We spoke with Doug Knopper, the co-founder and co-CEO of FreeWheel and Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Brightcove, about this new partnership and what it means for content publishers.

However, as we saw last month when talking to mDialog, ad platforms that utilize HTML5 and HTTP Streaming are starting to appear on the market.

What Brightcove and FreeWheel Are Doing

Brightcove is a leading online video platform used by major publishers like The New York Times, the Discovery Channel, A&E and Sony Pictures. It offers publishers a way to serve content via the web, from mobile devices, or even on connected TV platforms.

FreeWheel is an ad management and monetization platform. Its clients include Turner Broadcasting (TBS, CNN, TNT), the Discovery Channel, Major League Baseball and CBS. It’s a tool that can not only manage ad inventories from multiple sources and for different types of video, but it can also track performance and other analytical data.

Starting this June, Brightcove customers who use FreeWheel for ad management will be able to serve video via HTML5 and also have optimizable and trackable advertising options. This means that publishers can be assured that they are getting the same advertising value — and tracking information — whether a user is viewing content in a web browser or on an iPad.

Why This Matters

As Mr. Allaire pointed out in our discussion, there are more factors at play in the conversation about HTML5 and Flash — in terms of video content — that go beyond just how the video is served. “It’s pretty easy to just convert or serve video as an H.264 file,” says Allaire. “But that’s just the beginning. Entire platforms and enterprise level tools have been built for web video and these tools are written for Flash.”

This is true. Although more and more video services — including Brightcove — are now serving video in HTML5, that’s only part of the picture. In addition to serving video and customizing the look and feel of the video player (which again, is something Brightcove can do), there are tracking and advertising systems in place to help monetize that content. Most of these major systems are built for Flash video.

The partnership between FreeWheel and Brightcove gives their shared customers a way to keep their ad management tools that are already in place and still serve content on more and more devices.

Something that often gets lost in the debate over Flash and HTML5 is that right now, this doesn’t have to be an either or scenario — both options can continue to exist in parallel. However, the reason that HTML5 is so compelling — and the reason so many publishers are starting to jump on the bandwagon — is that it is a working solution right now for a variety of mobile devices that are on the market today and that are coming to the market in the future.

By bringing the publisher tools from the Flash world to HTML5, more content can become usable to more people.

What This Means for the Future

When I talked to Anthony Soohoo from CBS Interactive last week, he noted that one of the factors that would need to be decided before a “winner” could be declared in the HTML5 vs. Flash debate was how publishers would be able to track monetization for HTML5.

The fact that these tools are being developed by FreeWheel and others means that publishers, whether they use Brightcove or another video platform, will be more willing to invest in supporting HTML5. That’s a good thing because it means that web video can come to more and more devices.

Beyond that, the fact that the bigger companies are getting on board bodes well for the future of video because as the bigger video publishers start to embrace solutions, these solutions end up trickling down to smaller or even individual publishers. Perhaps it won’t be too long before it will be easy for individuals to host their own video in Flash or HTML5, even without using a platform like YouTube or Vimeo as a base.

What do you think of how the professional video market is embracing HTML5? Let us know!

Reviews: Vimeo, YouTube

Tags: advertising, brightcove, FreeWheel, HTML5, MARKETING, web video