When the history of media gets revised for 22nd Century textbooks, no doubt there will be a chapter on how online search changed just about everything in the early part of the 21st Century. The rise of real-time audience demand for certain news stories is upending traditional notions of editorial categorization. We are seeing at most news and information sites the quick construction of content pages around breaking stories, the aggregation of content around rising search and social media trends, and a general disintegration of the usual buckets of content categories. In online video, the problem of collecting the right streams around the right topics is an especially thorny problem. The web is so full of user-generated and duplicate sources of unequal quality that a simple topical search on YouTube renders a mess of content.
Today DailyMotion is trying to address the need for topically relevant video that is more curated than a search engine result. Its 'on-demand content hubs' claim to be rapid-response sections to the longstanding YouTube rival that are informed by search analytics and rising user demand around certain news stories or cultural topics. But DailyMotion is also throwing human editors against topics to triage content and create a more polished feel.
DailyMotion says its can launch new hubs around trends so that users are better able to find the content they are searching for and sharing anyway and so that advertisers, too, can ride the waves user interest that seem to rise and break, ebb and flow in a flash. In addition, DailyMotion will be planning topical hubs around events like CES, Fashion Week, ComicCon, etc., which I imagine are better able to capture ad dollars than rapid-response hubs around a news story.
The first example of the new topic hubs surrounds last week's CES 2011 show, and I have to say the results are pretty mixed. Curiously, the hub opens (for me at least) with a video from the Detroit Auto Show on Audi's possible plans to produce cars in the U.S. Huh? Oh, well, from there the pile of CES videos is on topic, even if the collection does suffers from some redundancies and is posted as "Search Results for CES." Is this a curated hub or just search results in a wrapper? The goal of offering users something more sculpted and editorially directed than search results is a good one. As I have watched others like Metacafe and HuffPo also create these "curated" sections, however, it seems to me that visitors may want a more visible editorial hand than they tend to see. If the new wave in online content is towards a kind of post-search filtering of media through our social graph or third party editors, then I think we probably want that human touch to be more apparent, either in a personality that shows itself or in a greater emphasis on content categorization and prioritization.