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eView: The Next Great Leap Forward for Web Video

February 14, 2008 By Alexander Castro
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The Internet video space is poised for a great leap forward in 2008. A January Pew Internet study showed that 48 percent of Internet users in the U.S. alone visited video sites such as YouTube, blip.tv and Veoh -- up from 33 percent in 2006. As big media produces more original programming for the Web and adopt more aggressive digital distribution strategies for existing properties, 2008 could be the year online video becomes everything advertisers and publishers alike have dreamed it would be -- measurable and, more importantly, profitable. Video search technology is ready for its close-up, and its impact on the marketplace will cause disruption, unseat incumbents and provide opportunities for new leaders to emerge.

According to comScore Video Metrix, Americans watched more than 10 billion videos in December 2007, but marketers still face uncertainty on how to best use online video as part of their overall digital media strategy. In the past year, online video has graduated beyond amateur, user-generated content to now include professionally produced series' created specifically for the Web, such as MySpace's "Quarterlife" and Heavy.com's "The Heavy Show." These series' meet the growing demand for more sophisticated content and also have opened marketing opportunities that more closely replicate traditional television, such as having the opportunity to sponsor a Web show with banner advertising or even develop original branded-video programming.

YouTube, Veoh and other video sites host sponsored text ads brokered via search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN, but until now, serving ads with the same consumer-response potential as search ads that are specific to the streaming video medium has been elusive.

New video search technologies have been developed that allow Web users to search inside a video or audio file for specific keywords and topics before consuming the entire clip. The targeting potential for advertisers is enormous. As with traditional search ads, advertisers now can serve contextual ads against keywords and topics discovered within an online video's actual content stream. For example, if a marketer wishes to place an ad next to the topic of "Automobiles," these tools can find the section of a video that is about cars and place a contextual ad.

A blank canvas
The advent of search married with video technology has created a new blank canvas for advertisers to scroll their messages. However, marketers will need to approach video-search media buys differently than traditional search or ad network buys. For example, they'll have to target their audience while making sure they maintain brand integrity. In addition, new ad environment criteria and viewer segmentation data will be required by advertisers to prevent associations with potentially inappropriate video content. Next-generation video advertising platforms will have controls in place to prevent compromises of brand integrity.

New video search technology will reap the following benefits for marketers, publishers and consumers alike:
  • allow users to discover specific video and audio files they wish to find across the Web;
  • allow users to surf inside video and audio programs for the exact content they want;
  • allow for image recognition within video;
  • serve ads that are contextual and inviting to consumers;
  • report results to advertisers about consumption of their ads in meticulous detail; and
  • greatly reduce network latency and other hosting issues for video files.

The new realities
In the last five years, the explosion of Web video has considerably changed the calculus of traditional broadcast media. The following new realities characterize new video production:

  • low cost of production;
  • very low barrier of entry to mass distribution; and
  • unclear and shifting methods of monetization.
However, there is a prominent place for traditional media in the new video distribution channels where people can sample video. Traditional media companies, for example, recently launched new sites for direct distribution of their prime-time video to consumers -- breaking the old taboos about competing with the old broadcast TV model.

There also are new forms of programming emerging on the horizon. Much of the new video content will be user generated, but an increasing amount will be produced by independent film and television makers who employ low-cost digital production techniques to make very compelling shows.

Digital formats distributed on the Web don't have to fit into 30- or 60-minute time slots anymore either, and as a result, new program-length productions will be invented to serve new audience dayparts.

Finally, the advent of video search technologies and video ad platforms will drive revenue for Web video publishers to cover the cost of production and give advertisers reliable ways to reach their audiences and measure results.

Alexander Castro is CEO and co-founder of Pluggd a Seattle-based company that helps consumers discover and share Internet audio and video. Reach him at alex@pluggd.com

 

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