Html5 Marketers have a lot to think about. From lead generation to integration with sales. The average day for a marketer is nothing short of chaos. Despite the chaos, marketers somehow find time to learn about industry changes that may impact future tactics and strategies. The emergence of HTML5 may be one of the most major industry shifting changes that has occured in recent years. Unfortunately it is flying under the radar of too many marketers.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is a programing language for web pages . Think of HTML as the brick and mortar of pages on the web, it provides content and structure while CSS supplies style. HTML has changed over the years and it is on the cusp of its next version: HTML5.

Why should marketers care about HTML5? Many reasons, but two major reasons are online video and SEO.

The Battle Over Online Video

While you may have heard of the battle television networks are having in monetizing their content online, that isn't the battle I am talking about. Online and user generated video is quickly becoming an important tool for marketers. A battle is currently happening in boardrooms in Silicon Valley that can have a profound impact on marketers planning to use video. With the recent launch of Apple's iPad the company made a decision to not support Adobe Flash . Flash is the technology that powers many of the videos and animations viewed on the web today. How will people watch web video on the iPad and the iPhone? HTML5.

One of HTML5's biggest impacts on marketers is its native video support. Do you know those pop menus that tell you that you need to update to a new version of Adobe Flash that appear sometimes when you try and watch a video online? That doesn't happen with HTML5 video. For marketers, this means that video becomes more ubiquitous. HTML5 makes video a native browser experience for users and publishers. It allows users to consume and publishers to distribute video without the need for browsers plugins. Major players in the TV and video industry like CBS, ABC, Vimeo, ESPN have already made changes to their sites to support video playback on the iPad, as well as other devices that do not support Flash and other video plugins.

HTML5 Gives Video More Marketing Muscle

HTML uses tags to classify different types of content on a web page. For the first time in HTML5, site owners have a "video" element which provides control for the way video is displayed, organized and searched. The "video" element eliminates the need for annoying browser-specific "object" tags.

Do you hate the black or white squares that fill a browser page while a video is loading? HTML5 adds a "poster" attribute that lets businesses specify an image as a place holder while a video is loading. For marketers this image could be as simple as a company logo or could be taken a step farther and be an ad for an upcoming webinar or product launch. Regardless, the ugly black and whites square can be a thing of the past which should make users happy.

An aspect of HTML5 that should make marketers who publish video excited is that size obligations no longer exist for video. In HTML5, videos have a width and height, much like images, so as a site owner you're no longer forced into the standard YouTube /Flash video sizes.  This is obviously dangerous, since you don't want to splatter your site with tons of tiny videos, but is still useful.

Search Engine Optimization Changes in HTML5

For marketers practicing organic search engine marketing, the key objective has been to make sure that the search engines could easily find and identify all of the content on your site.  HTML5 provides marketers with new ways to tell search engines about their content. In the past, marketers have used header tags such as "h2" and "h3". In HTML5 a new tag known as the "section"

tag will help site owners explain the topic of page sections to search engines.

The new "article" element has many applications, and may be more interesting than the "section" tag. Authors are supposed to use this to designate a piece of independent content that is suitable for syndication, like a blog post.  Hopefully this can be used to help both authors and search engines distinguish duplicate content from original content, making everyone's lives easier. The "article" tag also has a header, a footer, and can include attributes like the publication date.  All of these are helpful for browsing, organizing, displaying, and finding content. There are various hacks that people have been doing to make these possible in the past, but they will now be standard in HTML5 and eventually supported in all browsers.

Another new element is the "nav" tag.  Site authors or webmasters can use this to designate navigation menus, i.e. sections of links to other stuff with little or no original content. Search engines can then use these to understand site structure better, as well as display the navigation in various ways.  For example, a mobile device browser like on the iPhone can make links within "nav" section accessible by swiping the screen left or right.  

While it is unclear when HTML5 will be officially released, it is likely that marketers who learn about changes now will be well positioned for the future.

  • While content is king, so is understanding the best technical ways to present it.
  • Video will become a more important part of SEO as HTML5 makes it easier for search engines to rank and index it.
  • HTML5 will play an important role if you are planning to market across multiple screens: computers, phones and tablet computers
  • The web is growing up and getting smarter in they way information can be published. It is important that your business it getting smarter about publishing as well.

Has anyone in your business begun to think about the implications of HTML5 on your marketing strategies?

Note: Comprehensive information about HTML5 can be found at the W3C.

Photo Credit: justinsomnia

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Originally published Apr 14, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016


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