Syndication, Distribution Or Both
In a previous VideoInsider, I wrote that there is no money in online video unless you have the scale marketers need. In that article, one of the vehicles I encouraged publishers to participate in is video syndication.
Video syndication essentially means that content owners give away their content to syndication platforms, and gain video views and share of future revenue from pre-roll ads sold by the syndication partner. Syndication platforms typically have their own video player and ad-sales team, and aggregate different content providers and blend the content, un-branded into a channel-serving experience on content sites.
It's a valid way to get your content out there. You do nothing, and gain viewership and revenue in exchange.
As of late, video publishers have been echoing concerns about syndicating their videos using third-party syndication platforms, and rethinking how they can best use their own video player to get it out to the web.
Here are some challenges video publishers face:
(1) Syndication platforms mask the brand. Syndication platforms use their own player and create their own experience when playing aggregated syndicated content. By syndicating content, content owners don't control the user experience and brand awarenes.
(2) Weakening relationship with advertisers. Some syndication platforms out there allow content owners to sell ads on their syndicated views, but those are rare cases, and due to the nature of syndication, it's usually difficult and uncommon for video publishers to sell against unknown audience on a blind network of content sites.
(3) Dilution of your brand. If your content is being viewed on someone else's player and your brand omitted, you're losing the brand recognition that you worked hard to get.
(4) "As they grow stronger, you grow weaker." Someone told me recently, "If I ever want to sell my company, and a substantial amount of my traffic comes from third-party syndication platforms where people don't even know it's my content, I don't have a granular and predictable business. If they shut me down, or if they grow too big, my value as a business shrinks".
On the other hand, what is distribution? Distribution is a similar concept to syndication only in this scenario: content owners give away their content wrapped in their embedded player, brand and ad sales. Imagine going to a third-party site, reading an article about mobile, and at the end seeing four thumbnails offering you videos related to the article. If you click on one of the thumbnails, the actual embedded video of the content owner will pop up and be streamed. Each thumbnail could be from a different content owner, with each click opening a different video player. That way, the content owners distribute their content out to the Web -- a concept similar to video syndication, but their content is always being viewed in their native environment. This helps them to sustain an experience they control, and they can go and sell to their advertisers.
Both approaches are great. Distribution of content is even newer than syndication, and I believe we'll see more of both in the industry, enriching the Web with videos.
Weather you syndicate, distribute, or do both, be aware that if content owners think they can grow a serious business relying on their destination site, they are heading into a dangerous cliff, and they better have someone thinking how to get their content out using syndication or distribution vehicles.
Content should be available when and where the audience is.