The February edition of Fast Company magazine, which features a lengthy piece on YouTube, includes a number of interesting data points. One that caught my eye is that YouTube charges $375,000 per day for a home page "masthead" ad (these are the rich media 970x250 ads that occupy the top third to half of the home page). According to the article, the home page generates an average of 45 million views per day (though it's not clear if that's U.S.-only or global). A companion article notes that the home page gets 18 million visitors in the U.S. only.
The ad running today, for Lexus's new CT 200h hybrid is a typical masthead implementation: graphics rich, with embedded video, and links to a series of original, branded videos (in this case "Darkcasting" vignettes). Last September, in "YouTube Gets Center Stage in Google's New 'Watch This Space' Ad Campaign," I noted that the premier brands that used the masthead unit in the previous month included Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Showtime, NBC, Mattel, EA, T-Mobile, American Express and others. Each has its own creative execution that often extended far beyond what's typically seen in rich media display ads (my favorite example continues to be the Sly Stallone ad for the movie "The Expendables").
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.
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