Thursday, July 31, 2008

25% In 4 Days

I came across an interesting interview on Beet.tv with Brett, the CEO of TubeMogul. He mentioned a very interesting statistic that really resonated in my mind. The fact that the average web video attracts 25% of its total views in the first 4 days from release.

My opinion on this stat is that people are in the loop (through subscriptions, RSS, etc.) for the newest and freshest content available to view. Once they view the video, if they like it they share it with their friends and family so it spreads and gets consumed very quickly in a short period of time. So the core of the video audience views the video early, and then the remaining 75% of the views trickle through over the following weeks and months under a slower viral spread rate.

Who knew that the shelf life on web videos was so short?! The "25/4" rule is something very interesting to gauge, and I look forward to these types of measurement analytics as web video further matures and grows.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Social Media Tribe

Social media is really taking over the way we market to consumers by spending less money on buying traditional ads, and allowing us to go directly to the people whom we want our messages to reach.


Seth Godin is my favorite marketer because he understands the new social media world perhaps better than anyone else on the planet, and has written extensively on it for years.

He is releasing his new book this coming October named "Tribes" We Need You To Lead Us". It should come as no surprise to Godin fanatics that he has surrounded his book release with a remarkable social media campaign to drive buzz and attract attention.


What he has done is allow anyone who pre-orders his book (first cutoff unfortunately ended 1.5 hours ago, but he will accept people until August 10th and put them on a waiting list) to be part of a very small but exclusive social network (powered by Ning I believe) for people to passionately connect around remarkable ideas, stories, conversations, etc.

I was a participate way back when he created a limited number of custom printed milk cartons containing his then new book "Purple Cow". He created an ideavirus that spread throughout offices and the book went on to sell millions of copies shooting the book's success up the ranks of many top seller lists.

I think it's incredible that social networks can be formed and bring people together in many different ways. How Seth is tapping into this phenomena through a book is a very new way of aggregating an audience, and I'm sure we will see many marketers mimic this strategy in the future.

If you would like a chance to join Seth's tribe, read this post from him and follow his simple instructions. I look forward to connecting with you on what I believe may be eventually found at the URL destination of ning.jointhetribe.com.

Join the tribe today!




Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Web Video Sponsorship

I just came across a great post today from Beet.tv where Jigar Thakarar of CBS Interactive talks about sponsorship models across web video content. I really do think this format will be the largest growth driver for online video advertising as we head into this new space for both brands and publishers.

The main keys for publishers will be to work with brands right from the beginning to successfully integrate company messages in a content friendly way. So publishers and brands will need to get used to collaborating with each other to create a user-friendly experience for viewers, while still delivering quality entertainment value back to the consumer.

We have seen how brands are tied into movies but with the web being a much more interactive medium, I believe that in time as this ad model evolves we will see brands jump on board and see very positive results. This could very well prove to be the most significant ad purchase since TV ads were first introduced a few decades ago.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Important Web Video Blogs

I thought I would assemble a list of blogs which are highly relevant to the web video industry. If you are looking to be a mover/shaker in this emerging marketplace you need to read (and watch) these blogs regularly. In no particular order please see my favorite ones below.

1. NewTeeVee- covers the web video industry from a top down approach, lots of fresh content and widely read.
2. Beet.tv - great video interviews.
3. New Media Minute - short videos that provide great stats/info and have no fluff to them.
4. The Business Of Online Video - looks at the economics of web video.
5. Inside Online Video - looks at the fads and trends of web video.
6. Fierce Online Video - shows why web video is fierce.
7. Video Nuze - good analysis.
8. Web Video Report - solid information, a very important read for many.

These are the main ones that I currently subscribe to, and really provide me with a solid foundation for additional research and analysis.

Are there other great ones worth mentioning here? Please do share below.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Are You Part Of Video Conversations?

Are you starting to see video comments on blogs and videos? That's because there is speculation that conversations could be taken to the next level by using richer media forms rather than just simple text comments.

The most recognizable company in this space is Seesmic who have been working with their community very closely in hopes of closer engaging people around web media. Social media is really starting to take off as people don't want to just consume media, but also voice their opinions as well.

I've heard many arguments against the video conversation idea, on how people don't have enough time to even think about posting video comments or watch them and would rather just post a couple short lines of text. As in every new market and early technology introductions there are always going to be critics, but I think a video conversation community will grow and uncover benefits and return value to its members.

We are still a long way off of what some thought leaders in the space envision for the future, but there is reason to believe that with the wealth of tools and resources available, in a couple years we may see deeper conversations materialize and a larger crowd to socially network with.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Fascination With Live Web Video

The web allows us to do things that just a year or so ago, we couldn't have imagined doing. Now anyone can be a publisher, reporter, or broadcaster, and compete for attention against the large traditional players.

Live web video is very new, but being well adopted by innovators and early adopters. I'm not talking about video conversations with your friends via web cams (although this can be fun), I'm focusing on companies that allow live broadcasts through mobile phones.

Two of the early players are Flix Wagon, and Qik, who have services that allow anyone with a high end phone (like the Nokia N95) to download their application, and broadcast simultaneously to a large group of people.

It seems as though most people are just starting to realize the power that they hold in their hands, as most of the content is experimental. Leading edge people like Robert Scoble, have really leveraged this technology to do some interesting things such as interviews with Web 2.0 executives.

There is a lot of chatter amongst the media on whether user generated content (UGC) can ever be monetized, by getting acceptance from advertisers. YouTube's content is 96% UGC, and they have had a very hard time wrapping a business model around this inventory. Where Flix Wagon, and Qik decide to head on their journey towards profitability has yet to be seen, but it's likely they will need to adopt a new "brand safe" ad format.

Business aside, I think that more people will use these type of services as mobile plans get cheaper, more models become compatible, and people in time wrap their heads around the benefits of this very new concept.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get

Think about that for a moment, the harder I work, the luckier I get. I first heard this quote years ago, but it didn't fully stick in my head until earlier this year when I attended a Donald Trump conference, in which he uttered those exact same words.

So if you want to become the "Tiger Woods of web video", you must do like he has done to succeed. This being practice, play, fail, learn, practice, try, fail, improve, and so on until you reach your goals. There are many successful web video creators out there already, but I don't believe we have yet witnessed the Tiger within this emerging market.

In a world where number 1 is rewarded exponentially more than number 2, I wonder if we will see without a doubt, a clear cut web video creator winner. Will it be as easy to identify as current markets dictate, i.e. Google in search, Ebay in auctions, Amazon in books, YouTube in video, and iTunes in music. Or will it be more of a rotating hit list where long-term clear cut winners are debatable?

Does the number 1 web video creator reside in YouTube because it's the largest video site, or do we need to aggregate stats across many web video site audiences to conclude a more accurate answer?

The harder I work, the luckier I get, but what also holds true is, the harder I work, the more there is to learn, and the more confused I ultimately become.

Monday, July 21, 2008

From $471 Million To $7.2 Billion In 5 Years

So what does $471 million to $7.2 billion in 5 years represent? It represents the forecasted growth for the online video advertising space between 2007 and 2012.

In 2007, it's estimated that marketers spent $471 million on online video advertising. While that number may sound big by some measures, it actually represented just a small fraction of total expenditures within the TV industry.

So how is it possible you ask, that we may see a 15,000% hyper growth increase in the online video ad industry by 2012? Below are some of the contributing factors.

1. TV ad dollars are moving out of this medium, to online video, and the interactive web. GM alone is expected to spend 50% of their total ad budget online by 2010.

2. Advertisers are slowly learning that ROI is much better through measurable two way channels (i.e. the web), than pushing interruptive ads (i.e. TV).

3. National advertising is getting more expensive, while its effectiveness is diminishing. Local advertising which is more demographically targeted will see huge spikes in growth, allowing smaller players a cost effective medium to invest into.

4. A lot of professionally produced content is migrating online from the TV and movie industries. As desirable online inventory increases, and purchasing gets more streamlined, the more that advertisers are comfortable with spending.

5. Online video ad format standards are just now being established, allowing advertisers to understand the creatives available. TV offers only a handful of formats available (most notably the 30 second spot), but it will take a couple of years for marketers to experiment and see what format works best for them in the online video marketplace.

6. It's been well documented that YouTube still doesn't believe that the optimal online video ad format has been implemented. Which means that the discovery potential for the largest growth driver for this space is on, and may not come until later this decade or even after 2010.

7. The online video space is so fragmented as viewers embed original source videos into their blogs, websites, and social networks. Advertisers need to feel comfortable with not only the video content, but also the host site, platform, or network as well.

8. TV ads were mainly intended to drive brand awareness, not engagement, or direct purchase. In the online world, a person may see an ad which they immediately interact with, and then even go on to purchase the product or service within that same experience.

Ads become exponentially more valuable when short term people can go from awareness to interacting to purchasing. Ad creatives of the future will focus more on delivering entertainment, and become a personalized content experience. Maybe the term advertising will need to be renamed all together, so our perception of brands can take on a new perspective and perception?!

9. Because online video ads are more engaging, relevant, and targeted, CPM's are fetching upwards of $60-$80. Compare that to a prime time TV show that gets $25 CPM, and you can start to see the value of this emerging ad medium.

10. The overall online video audience will continue to grow, mature, and as daily dependence for online video becomes more evident, the advertisers will be close behind monetizing on those lucrative, engaged eyeballs.

Have something to say? If you have any other good points, feel free to comment below.

Friday, July 18, 2008

HD Web Video

There has been a lot of media attention on what high definition (HD) for web video actually means, and its importance to our lives. A few distribution platforms claim to offer their publishers the ability to deliver their content in HD across high bandwidth broadband connections. It has been argued that just because HD TV like resolutions may exist, that doesn't fully constitute that it's actually pure HD quality being broadcasted.

There may be a few people out there that crave getting the highest quality possible via their broadband access, but for a large percentage of the web viewing audience it doesn't really matter if the Kbps are a few hundred higher or not.

I understand that longer term as the mainstream audience invests in larger computer screens, and we buy the hardware to view web content on our plasma TV's, this will be important. But the fact remains that only early adopters have the hardware, and large pools of bandwidth to tap into for HD viewing.

I'm sure that 5 years from now, the heart of the mainstream audience will be fully indulging in the HD web revolution. Of course there are potential bandwidth issues surfacing that company's may cap our personal bandwidth use, and infrastructures needed to provide a HD solution for the vast majorities still isn't available.

Unless we fully rely on and trust P2P solutions to address these problems, don't expect your daily web video quality to change a whole lot over the next couple of years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Web Video Is Multi-Tasking Unfriendly

While video is arguably the most desired media available today, there are some who don't like the fact that video requires more attention than say music, podcasts, emailing, chatting, or social networking, where multi-tasking is the norm.

While this may be true, it really depends on the type of content you are consuming. Something like a news podcast, where there is only a person or two sitting at a desk delivering stories, will require less attention than say consuming entertaining videos, music videos, or movie trailers.

This level of engagement is one of the many factors why advertisers are seeing greater click through rates on inline and overlay ads, because people are actually seeing brand messages. While banner click through rates traditionally see much lower than 1%, newer formats for web video advertising are seeing upwards of 8%.

A couple of the ways I actually do multi-task while consuming web video, is I enjoy eating while I watch videos (something you can't do when typing emails and messages), and when I travel I like to transport my iPod on the road and take in some downloaded episodes of popular web shows like Diggnation.

While I love doing many things simultaneously like listening to music, posting a message on a friend's Facebook wall, chatting with my friends across the world, and having the TV on in the background. I also love being completely engaged with entertaining web videos, where I can share, rate, post messages, and bookmark the content that earns my respect.

With our lives getting busier and busier, our limited time becomes more and more valuable, so multi-tasking has become a forced reality. Some things in life are simply meant to be fully enjoyed, accompanied with our undivided attention, and I believe that web video entertainment certainly falls within this category.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Web Video and M&M's

What does web video and M&M's have in common? Apparently lots of things, see below.

1. They are both sweet.
2. They can both be shared.
3. They can both be commented on.
4. They can both be rated.
5. Both can be promoted through social media.
6. Both have lots of colors.
7. Both are packaged for goodness, i.e. web video in a player, M&M's in a wrapper.
8. Both are fun to look at.
9. Both can be used as an aphrodisiac.
10. Both can be used for self benefit.
11. Both can be enjoyed while on the couch (thanks to hardware like the Apple TV).
12. They are both portable (thanks to iPods).
13. They both make a sound when consumed.
14. Both can tell an interesting story.
15. You can compress them both.
16. You can syndicate them both.
17. Both can make you money.
18. You can play with them both.
19. They can both get you into tons of trouble.
20. Both take just minutes to consume.
21. Both can be enjoyed as a snack.
22. Both are produced.
23. Both have bright futures.

What do they not have in common?

1. They don't both melt in your mouth, not in your hands.
2. You can't taste web video.
3. You can't smell web video.
4. Web video is free, M&M's are not.
5. You can't subscribe to M&M's (well not that I know of).
6. Both aren't digital (unless you count the M&M video ads themselves).
7. You can't make M&M's bigger or go full screen like web video.
8. Web video doesn't have an expiry date, M&M's unfortunately do.
9. You can't email M&M's.

Wow, who thought there were so many common characteristics between web video and M&M's?! Please add more if you can think of some.

The point of this post, is to just throw something out there that is totally random, and fun for the summer. So watch lots of web videos, and eat lots of M&M's today.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Journey To 100

We (UnleashVideo.com) have been very picky throughout our beta phase, to only choose quality entertainment that we feel our viewers will enjoy and share. Our goal has been to aggregate 100 videos, and then begin our marketing and promotional efforts to bring in a sustainable viewership, and attract media interest.

We recently had a passionate creator who really wanted to become a creator on our site, but we rejected the account because the content fit wasn't quite right for our niche. The creator responded by saying most video sites try very hard to get their content, and that they have never been rejected by a web video sharing company. I loved hearing this because it reconfirms that we are going in the right direction, that our focus is narrow, and that our offering is in fact much different than the other web video players.

If we didn't approve our creators, and their content, we would have upwards of 1,000 site videos by now, but how many of those videos would really be quality, and how many would be low level user generated ____ (you can fill in the blank).

While we expected to be in full out operations at this point, we may have underestimated the amount of inventory available to our site's disposal.

We are now in very active conversations with various top web video producers to create our own exclusive content for the site. Overall, there is a strong demand for web video entertainment, but a shortage of supply, so we hope to bridge this gap through collaborative efforts with talented producers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The YouTube Pre-Roll Debate


The media is going crazy over YouTube contemplating using pre-roll ads in their videos, despite 75% of their viewer audience being opposed to it.

YouTube needs to weigh their options, and I see two main scenarios that could happen:

1. They introduce pre-rolls but viewers must opt into them, and creators must approve them to be included in their content. If they decide on going with this option, how many viewers will actually opt-in? The only way I see attracting a percentage higher than 1%, is to share ad revenues with the viewers, in addition to the original creators.

2. They introduce pre-rolls where creators must still approve pre-rolls in their content, but viewers have no choice but to watch pre-rolls. If this direction is chosen, I believe that a few million viewers would go elsewhere for their video initially, but many would return over time and surrender to the inevitable pre-roll format.

I understand that Google needs to start aggressively monetizing their 1 billion video views/day to offset their bandwidth costs, but I'm not so sure that pre-rolls are the answer. They are expected to make $200 million this year, but that doesn't get them to profitability.

Chad Hurley really understands that YouTube is all about the community, so I'm sure that he won't make any huge decisions like this without a sound understanding of how the core community feels about this move.

It's just too bad that advertisers aren't quicker to adopt the newer ad formats which are less obtrusive, such as instream, and overlays. On the positive side of the equation, if YouTube does in fact go with pre-rolls and it doesn't successfully work out, that could finally change the way advertisers think about online video advertising, and force new format adoptions.

If pre-rolls are introduced they will need to be short (under 10 seconds), but many agencies still produce 15 and 30 second ad spots, so a shift in creatives will need to occur. Frequency is also a very critical aspect of this equation as well, how often will we see these proposed pre-rolls? Every video? Every 3 videos? Post-rolls aren't as interruptive, so they can be a bit more aggressive with them if they decide to, but sacrifice higher CPM rates. What combination of pre-rolls and post-rolls would be ideal? There would need to be a balance between viewer experience, and desired revenue they hope to generate.

Other sites do use pre-rolls on their short form content, but it is considered to be professional, which apparently makes it more acceptable than YouTube's vast collection of User Generated Content. Can YouTube change the way advertisers negatively view this type of content, or will advertisers completely shy away?

Whether YouTube decides to go through with this experiment or not, has yet to be known. If it does happen, you can bet that the entire online video community will feel the impact that it unleashes.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Web Video Entertainment World

I'm not sure if the web is noticing it or not, but overall web video entertainment is consistently on the rise. As semi-pro's get more experience and elevate their talent, and the pro's slowly migrate over to the web platform from TV and movie studios, entertainment value is increasing.

Quality web video entertainment has been hard to locate from the plethora of user generated content which millions of amateurs upload regularly. There are huge opportunities for web video search engines that can dive directly into the media, and return relevant results that viewers seek to discover.

I see three major markets going forward into the future of web video entertainment. Major studio entities with their expensively produced, high end content. Semi professional content produced with low to moderate budgets, but well thought out with impressive creativity. And lastly, user generated content (a high percentage shot with portable or mobile cameras) which everyday people want to share within their friends and family networks.

With the wealth of knowledge out there on the web, I wouldn't be surprised to see many people who currently fit into the user generated group, to elevate their game towards becoming semi-pro's, and even reach professional status. I know that the younger generation are increasingly investing their personal hobby time more and more into digital media areas.

I'm a huge supporter of social collaboration, and believe that there is unlimited potential for people who "get" next gen media models, have passion, and can successfully aggregate diverse talent into productive teams.

We are still in the "black and white TV days" of web video entertainment, but the next era of media production is starting to hit its stride.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Opinions, Conversations, and Spam

I’ve been studying commenting and conversations throughout the web’s vast collections of social communities, forums, blogs, and entertainment destinations. There seems to be 3 main categories that comments fall under, “link bait” by social media marketers and bloggers, “one sentence jobs” by amateurs, and “spammers” that devalue the experience for everyone.

Link bait refers to people that offer their professional opinion in a paragraph or two on the original content, and add their link as bait in hopes of driving readers back to their web destination, and to increase their page rank on Internet search engines. The primary motivation for doing so, is to build upon their reputation, build brand awareness, and become a trusted thought leader in their respective industry.

Some amateurs engage in a minor way with the content they read, listen to, or watch, but post just a few simple words such as “great post”, “what a great listen, thank you”, or “great video, very entertaining”. This group of people typically doesn’t have any ulterior motive, wants to offer their support (or non-support), but don’t really immerse themselves around the conversation.

Spammers are the worst kind of people online (well next to sexual predators), their main intent is promote their products through a guerrilla strategy. Sexual enhancers and porn sites tend to be a large focus for this group. I would think that comments like these get little or no attention, and likely don’t offer much success towards their marketing mix. Some positive results must be evident, otherwise time wouldn’t be wasted on these efforts. Personally myself, along with 99.4% of others, we have learned how to mentally filter out irrelevant, impersonal junk like this.

While commenting has come a long way to engage a passionate crowd of people, and extend experiences through two way dialogs. An ever growing fragmented web is emerging, so improved connection utilities will need to provide a richer experience for the conversational social web to enjoy, and derive tangible value from.