Posts for 'Unigo'

  • Online Video Reaches the College Admissions Process

    Settling in over breakfast yesterday with the Sunday Boston Globe (yes, I actually still read my hometown newspaper in print), I was intrigued by a story featured prominently on page 1 , detailing how Tufts University, a highly-selective college in the Boston area, has encouraged freshman applicants to submit one-minute "video essays" of themselves. Of the 15,436 applicants this year, over 1,000, or 6% submitted one.

    Talk about a college in synch with the YouTube/Facebook generation. Not only does the idea cater perfectly to what kids today are already doing a lot of online, it provides the admissions office with an unvarnished insight into the kids, talking about what makes them special, in their own unique and creative way.

    Video is an emotional medium in ways that text simply is not. That has never been truer than with these submissions. I looked through all the videos that the Globe added to its gallery (you can also go to YouTube and enter "Tufts admissions" to see more) and they are priceless. There's aspiring engineer Michael Klinker flying a styrofoam elephant he designed (Tufts' mascot is the "Jumbo"), to the music from Disney's "Dumbo." And Amelia Downs, whose interests are math and dance, showing the moves she's invented to simulate different math concepts. Then there's Conor Buckley, pianist and Rubik's cube solver-extraordinaire, pursuing both of his passions on split-screen.

    The videos are endearing and authentic. Most seem to have been made on a shoestring budget, featuring 17 and 18-year old kids just being themselves, doing what they love. And if you were thinking that the one-minute video idea biases toward wealthier kids, the Tufts director of admissions said that at least 60% of the videos that have been viewed were from kids applying for student aid. With video-ready digital cameras and cell phones, ubiquitous Flip videocameras plus ubiquitous low-end editing software, kids today are more video-capable then any generation in history.

    I relate the Tufts admissions videos to Unigo, the Trip Advisor-like site for high school students to check out colleges through videos made by the students themselves, which I wrote about here. Both are perfect examples of what I've called "purpose-driven" user-generated video ("UGV"). What I mean by that is with millions getting comfortable making short videos just for fun and then posting them at YouTube and elsewhere, there's an opportunity to tap this experience, but direct it into specific pursuits. Other UGV examples include the Doritos Super Bowl ads and ExpoTV's "Kitchen Table Conversations" research service. I'm sure there are plenty of others.

    I expect many more organizations will leverage purpose-driven UGV going forward.

    What do you think? Post a comment now (no sign-in required).

  • September '08 VideoNuze Recap - 3 Key Themes

    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 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!

  • Startup Unigo Harnesses "Purpose-Driven" User-Generated Video to Drive Disruption

    I was absolutely riveted by an article I read in this past Sunday's NY Times Magazine entitled "The Tell-All Campus Tour," about Unigo, a tiny startup which threatens major disruption to the college guidebook industry. In particular, the company's emphasis on user (i.e. college student) generated video caught my attention. It got me thinking again about the business value that "purpose-driven" UGV has when it is properly channeled.

    I've touched on this theme in the past, with respect to brand marketers' UGV contests that have unleashed all kinds of "amateur" creativity (see "Baby Ruth Hits a Home Run..." or "And the Oscar Goes To...Dove"). These contests have demonstrated that, with the proper incentives, users' passions and video know-how can lead to really compelling results. Now, upon reading about Unigo, I've become further convinced that there are bona fide startup opportunities in leveraging purpose-driven UGV.

    To put this in context, YouTube struck gold by enabling, for the first time, random, and largely unmonetizable, user generated video. Now a new generation of startups like Unigo can build on the YouTube phenomenon by focusing on purpose-driven UGV. To succeed, I think these companies will have 3 common elements: a reasonably large existing market that can be disrupted through the use of purpose-driven video (mixed with other web 2.0 features), a critical mass of amateur video creators who are self-motivated to produce high-quality, authentic video, and a group of advertisers eager to reach targeted audiences through new alternatives to traditional channels.

    That's a mouthful, so let me use Unigo to break this down a bit. For starters, the company was founded by a precocious 23 year-old whose can-do energy and deep understanding of the college market is equally matched by his lack of real-world experience and formal company financing. All of that illustrates lesson #1 for purpose-driven UGV entrepreneurs: the barriers to creating these kinds of startups is shockingly low.

    Somewhat buried in the 3,400+ word article is what resonated for me: Unigo bought a hundred Flip video cameras ($90 apiece at Amazon, fyi) and strategically distributed them to students at over 100 campuses nationwide, with no clear instructions on what to do next. The resulting student-created videos (which are continually submitted) span the gamut from slice-of-life to panoramic to comedic to everything in between. Unigo features text-based student submissions and photos, which, when combined with the videos, form an unvarnished - and unprecedented - user-generated multimedia guide to the America's campuses.

    Simply put, Unigo is a product created by the YouTube/Facebook generation for the YouTube/Facebook generation. It offers a simple, breakthrough value proposition that will no doubt attract a large audience. And that large audience will be extremely interesting to all manner of advertisers.

    Unigo's business value could make it a TripAdvisor-like, must have resource that initially augments, but could eventually squeeze traditional guidebooks and ratings services. While it is still way too early to call Unigo a success by any traditional standards, the work it has done to date offers a fascinating window into the emerging purpose-driven UGV-centric business model. That makes it well worth keeping an eye on.

    What do you think? Click here to post a comment.

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