I've been optimistic about print publishers' (magazines and newspapers) opportunity to expand into broadband video for a while now. They bring recognized brands, editorial expertise and advertising relationship to their video initiatives. But of course they have plenty of learning to do about how to create compelling yet inexpensive video that serves their audience's needs.
Yesterday's Online Media Daily had a good piece on what Forbes, Conde Nast and the NY Times for example, are doing to bolster their video efforts. Their executives' sentiments echo what I heard from Eric Grilly, president of Philly.com, the web site associated with the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a recent conversation with him.
Philly.com has been building out a number of programs this year on topics including wine ("Philly Uncorked"), local restaurants ("The Philly Dish") and local gossip ("The Gossip with Marnie Hall"). Philly.com seems to have hit on an initial formula for identifying a sponsor first, recruiting outside talent and regularly releasing episodes. Eric noted he's not trying to compete with local broadcasters, but rather trying to do something new and different. The programs look like they're inexpensive to make, but have high advertiser appeal. Despite print publishers' larger challenges, I expect to see them continue pushing hard into video in '09.
What do you think? Post a comment now.
Welcome to October. Recapping another busy month, here are 3 key themes from September:
1. When established video providers use broadband, it must be to create new value
Broadband simultaneously threatens incumbent video businesses, while also opening up new opportunities. It's crucial that incumbents moving into broadband do so carefully and in ways that create distinct new value. However, in September I wrote several posts highlighting instances where broadband may either be hurting existing video franchises, or adding little new value.
Despite my admiration for Hulu, in these 2 posts, here and here, I questioned its current advertising implementations and asserted that these policies are hurting parent company NBC's on-air ad business. Worse yet, In "CNN is Undermining Its Own Advertisers with New AC360 Live Webcasts" I found an example where a network is using broadband to directly draw eyeballs away from its own on-air advertising. Lastly in "Palin Interview: ABC News Misses Many Broadband Opportunities" I described how the premier interview of the political season produced little more than an online VOD episode for ABC, leaving lots of new potential value untapped.
Meanwhile new entrants are innovating furiously, attempting to invade incumbents' turf. Earlier this week in "Presidential Debate Video on NYTimes.com is Classic Broadband Disruption," I explained how the Times's debate coverage positions it to steal prime audiences from the networks. And at the beginning of this month in "Taste of Home Forges New Model for Magazine Video," I outlined how a plucky UGC-oriented magazine is using new technology to elbow its way into space dominated by larger incumbents.
New entrants are using broadband to target incumbents' audiences; these companies need to bring A-game thinking to their broadband initiatives.
2. Purpose-driven user-generated video is YouTube 2.0
In September I further advanced a concept I've been developing for some time: that "purpose-driven" user-generated video can generate real business value. I think of these as YouTube 2.0 businesses. Exhibit A was a company called Unigo that's trying to disrupt the college guidebook industry through student-submitted video, photos and comments. While still early, I envision more purpose-driven UGV startups cropping up in the near future.
Meanwhile, brand marketers are also tapping the UGV phenomenon with ongoing contests. This trend marked a new milestone with Doritos new Super Bowl ad contest, which I explained in "Doritos Ups UGV Ante with $1 Million Price for Top-Rated 2009 Super Bowl Ad." There I also cataloged about 15 brand-sponsored UGV contests I've found in the last year. This is a growing trend and I expect much more to come.
3. Syndication is all around us
Just in case you weren't sick of hearing me talk about syndication, I'll make one more mention of it before September closes out. Syndication is the uber-trend of the broadband video market, and several announcements underscored its growing importance.
For example, in "Google Content Network Has Lots of Potential, Implications" I described how well-positioned Google is in syndication, as it ties AdSense to YouTube with its new Seth MacFarlane "Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy" partnership. The month also marked the first syndication-driven merger, between Anystream and Voxant, a combination that threatens to upend the competitive dynamics in the broadband video platform space. Two other syndication milestones of note were AP's deal with thePlatform to power its 2,000+ private syndication network, and MTV's comprehensive deal with Visible Measure to track and analyze its 350+ sites' video efforts.
I know I'm a broken record on this, but regardless of what part of the market you're playing in, if you're not developing a syndication plan, you're going to be out of step in the very near future.
That's it for September, lots more planned in October. Stay tuned.
What do you think? Post a comment!
Welcome to September. Before looking ahead, here's a quick recap of 3 key topics from August:
1. Advertising model remains in flux
Broadband video advertising was a key story line in August, as it seems to be every month. The industry is rightly focused on the ad model's continued evolution as more and more players in the value chain are increasingly dependent on it. This month, in "Pre-Roll Video Advertising Gets a Boost from 3 Research Studies," I noted how recent research is showing that user acceptance and engagement with the omnipresent pre-roll format is already high and is improving. However, as many readers correctly noted, research from industry participants must be discounted, and some of the metrics cited are not necessarily the best ones to use. I expect we'll see plenty more research - on both sides of pre-roll's efficacy - yet to come.
Meanwhile, comScore added to the confusion around the ad model by first highly ranking YuMe, a large ad network, very high in its reach statistics, only to then reverse itself by downgrading YuMe, before regrouping entirely by introducing a whole new metric for measuring reach. In this post, "comScore Gets Its Act Together on Ad Network Traffic Reporting," I tried to unravel some of this mini-saga. Needless to say, without trustworthy and universally accepted traffic reporting, broadband video is going to have a tough slog ahead.
2. Broadband Olympics are triumphant, but accomplishments are overshadowed
And speaking of a tough slog, the first "Broadband Olympics" were a huge triumph for both NBC and all of its technology partners, yet their accomplishments were overshadowed by a post-mortem revenue estimate by eMarketer suggesting NBC actually made very little money for its efforts. This appeared to knock broadband video advertising back on its heels, yet again, as outsiders pondered whether broadband is being overhyped.
The Olympics became a hobbyhorse of mine in the last 2 weeks as I tried to clarify things in 2 posts, "Why NBCOlympics.com's Video Ad Revenues Don't Matter" part 1 and part 2. These posts triggered a pretty interesting debate about whether technology/operational achievements are noteworthy, if substantial revenues are absent. My answer remains a resounding yes. But having exhausted all my arguments in these prior posts, I'll leave it to you to dig in there if you'd like to learn more about why I feel this way.
3. Broadband's impact is wide-ranging
VideoNuze readers know that another favorite topic of mine is how widespread broadband's impact is poised to become, and in fact already is. A number of August's posts illustrated how broadband's influence is already being felt across a diverse landscape.
Here's a brief sampling: "Vogue.TV's Model.Live: A Magazine Bets Big on Broadband" (magazines), "Tanglewood and BSO Pioneer Broadband Use for Arts/Cultural Organizations," (arts/culture), "American Political Conventions are Next Up to Get Broadband Video Treatment," (politics), "Citysearch Offering Local Merchants Video Enhancement," (local advertising) and "1Cast: A Legit Redlasso Has Tall Mountain to Climb" (local news).
I expect this trend will only accelerate, as more and more industries begin to recognize broadband video's potential benefits.
That's it for August and for the busy summer of '08. Lots more action to coming this fall!
I've been writing for a while now that broadband gives non-video media companies a whole new strategic growth opportunity. This is especially true for magazines with well-defined brands, strong advertising relationships and sought-after audiences. Few magazines fit that description as well as Vogue, Conde Nast's high-end fashion bible. So I was pleased to read about a month ago that Vogue intended to launch Model.Live, a 12 episode original broadband-only series, in a partnership with IMG.
Model.Live went live recently, and I've caught the first couple of 8 minute episodes. Shot in a reality/documentary style, Model.Live follows the lives of 3 young and aspiring models. With a budget of $3 million, these productions do not feel like run-of-the-mill low-end indie video. There are multiple camera angles, great lighting, and extensive on-location shoots. Absent are the high-end graphics and faux cliff-hanger moments typically seen on TV contest shows.
While many will find the subject matter and dialogue insipid (19 year-old Dutch model Cato's mildly defiant "I can party when I'm 30..." justification for deferring college is a classic eye-roller); my guess is that for Vogue readers and for those interested in the fashion world, these authentic behind-the-scenes peeks will be quite intriguing. For example, in episode 2 we hear Cato's mother expressing her authentic unease with the modeling world's fame and glamour (of course, her star-struck sister more than offsets these reservations).
The video player allows sharing through email, and easy downloading to iPods. Curiously though, there's no commenting or rating available, two tools now widely used to generate audience interactivity. Also missing is any email or RSS alert function so it's not clear how a fan would know when the next episode will be released. There's not even a teaser for what's coming next, a standard promotional tool for serialized TV shows.
Still, Vogue has definitely nailed certain things. It is smartly distributing Model.Live on the social network Bebo, which is sure to gain the show widespread visibility among targeted younger audiences (it is supposed to be available on Hulu and Veoh as well, though searches at both sites yielded no results). And, for a deal in the reported "low seven figures," it signed up Express to be the program's sponsor. Express gets huge visibility in the right panel of the video player, with clothing purchases a few clicks away. Vogue's ability to drive awareness and revenue for Express will certainly influence whether Model.Live continues on after its first season.
Model.Live actually follows several other programs Vogue has released ("Behind the Lens," "The Collections," Trend Watch") yet, it is clearly the most ambitious. These kinds of shows are a natural extension for the brand, and I believe are essential as Vogue seeks to engage an increasingly online audience seeking out video. Other magazines should be taking note.
What do you think? Post a comment.
I've been a long-time advocate that broadband video offers print publishers such as newspapers and magazines a whole new strategic growth opportunity. In a recent briefing with Richard Glosser, CondeNet's Executive Director of Emerging Media, he went a step further, telling me that for Conde "all roads lead to broadband video." For those not familiar with CondeNet, it is the digital business unit of Conde Nast, the upscale magazine publisher (Vogue, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, GQ, Details, Wired, etc.).
CondeNet has been pursuing video on its 5 web sites (Style.com, Men.Style.com, Epicurious.com, Concierge.com and Wired.com, which are associated with its magazine brands and collectively generate around 12 million unique visitors/mo) since late '06. Coincidentally, Conde's approach to video is very aligned with how I described magazines' video opportunities in a report I released in Q2 '07, "The Top 40 U.S. Magazines and Broadband Video: Learning to Thrive in a Multi-Platform World."
Conde recognizes that many of the same skills and assets vital to a magazine franchise are transferrable to video, and, when augmented with new video-specific capabilities and people, the combination significantly expands the brand's potential, especially with advertisers, in the digital era. Conde is now producing or licensing approximately 600 videos per year, with most in the 2-3 minute range. While insisting that the its video be high quality, it is very budget-focused, with target production of $1,000/minute.
Since CondeNet is a separate unit, some of its videos stand alone on the site, unaffiliated with print stories. But often the video is related to what's in print, and that brings up one of the main challenges for magazines to successfully pursue video: evolving the editorial process to incorporate a video angle. Conde has hired video producers who now work closely with magazine editors to identify appropriate opportunities. The question guiding these decisions: "What do our audiences expect from us?"
Meanwhile, Conde's early video syndication efforts also show why video is so strategic. Though only distributing to 5 partners as yet (YouTube, iTunes, Sony Bravia, Verizon VCast and Adobe Media Player) - Richard shared that two-thirds of its overall video views now come from these 5 partners, with the other third generated from Conde's own sites, underscoring the opportunities I've previously written about concerning the "syndicated video economy."
Better yet, Richard cited a number of examples where a certain clip breaks out on a partner site, demonstrating that Conde's partners help it reach new audiences it doesn't typically attract on its own. One example was videos it placed on YouTube about Culinary Institute of America students Epicurious was tracking for a series. Video of one student in particular underperformed on Epi, but was off the charts on YouTube. Conde's thinking is that YouTube's younger audiences related better to this student's particular trials and tribulations and embraced her in a way that Conde's traditional audiences had not.
This is just one of Conde's many insights gained from its early video experience. Conde is showing that magazines should look at video as a logical and inevitable extension of their franchises. It is increasingly expected by their audiences and advertisers.
What do you think about magazines' video opportunities? Post a comment now!
Yesterday Fast Company magazine officially launched its previously announced FastCompany.TV initiative as "a new kind of business video network." It is another indicator of how broadband is raising the competitive bar in the today's video business.
FC hired Robert Scoble, who ran Scobleizer, an extremely popular technology blog, to be the venture's managing editor. The first programs announced yesterday were "Scobleizer TV," mainly interviews with technology and innovation leaders shot in HD, and "Fast Company Live," which is being shot with a cell phone (yes, a cell phone) and presented in a rough-and-raw, "you're in the front row" experimental style.
I asked Robert if he had considered aligning his brand to a broadcast or cable network instead of Fast Company. Though he said he had some conversations, he quickly realized that their approaches were not congruent with his. He saw that traditional networks produce very expensively, with multiple cameras, lights, sets, makeup, etc, all of which creates the lavish look we see on TV. Robert points out that all of this means networks spend a lot of money and time to create just a relatively small amount of actual video (he offered one example he knew of where it took 10 hours to create 2 minutes of video). All of this creates a culture in which executives have a hard time relating to his innovative, low overhead approach.
Conversely, he believes that broadband video must be shot economically, efficiently and creatively, with an eye toward maximizing the ratio of video shot to video aired. As he put it, in a "Google-powered trillion channel world, where each channel may only have 50 or 500 or 5,000 viewers, building media at a low-enough cost enables you to do very well. And the Internet offers the chance to present video that never would have been made in the traditional world."
These sentiments perfectly capture what I see as broadband video's ultimate impact: providing a different consumer experience unencumbered by traditional yardsticks and technologies, with the results being a proliferation of consumer choices and real competition to incumbent players.
Another interesting aspect of FC.TV is that it uses Twistage, a relatively new video publishing and management platform. I had spoken to their CEO David Wadler a couple of weeks ago, and he explained that Twistage is a highly flexible, API-rich platform that he believes is much cheaper than competitors. Robert said he likes Twistage's turnkey ASP approach, which allows FC.TV to outsource just about everything, eliminating a lot of what he called the "drudge work." Wadler told me there are other media customers to be announced soon, so Twistage looks to be an emerging player in this already quite crowded space.
Taken together, FastCompany.TV shows how aggressive magazines can use broadband video to significantly expand the scope of the businesses.
What do you think? Post a comment and let everyone know!
Thumbing through the latest version of the New Yorker I noticed the ad shown at right (scanned B&W version, a little hard to read online). It's an intriguing invitation to enter something called the "Bud.TV Movies Rock BudTUBE" contest (that's a mouthful). It goes on to ask you to "reinterpret" one of the featured movie scenes on Bud.TV. The winner gets a trip to LA and a possible meeting with producer Stacey Sher.
So I go to Bud.TV to learn more and all I can find is a small icon on the home page that leads to this contest landing page.
It doesn't say when this contest will launch, doesn't ask me to submit an email address or to sign up to be notified when the contest goes live and doesn't provide any additional teaser information beyond what was in the New Yorker ad (like how about at least showing a few of the featured movie scenes?).
At first I thought the New Yorker magazine, with its liberal-minded, somewhat elitist audience, seemed like an odd place to be marketing a contest sponsored by a beer brand, but maybe there was something I was missing. But now seeing this underwhelming landing page, my conclusion is that this whole Bud.TV contest is a misfire so far. Wouldn't you expect a marketer of Anheuser-Busch's stature to execute the details better than this? I would.
Bud.TV has been widely criticized, but it remains a bold attempt by Bud to use broadband to change the marketing equation and improve engagement with its customers. However, if it's going to be effective, it's going to have to execute far better than it has with this contest. A lesson to all brand marketers experimenting with broadband - try your best to create a cohesive and memorable user experience.