In our end-of-year series, we asked a number of online video professionals three questions.
The professionals included:
- Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of Evolve (content producer, publisher, ad representation)
- Matt Heiman, CEO of Diagonal View (content producer)
- Jim Louderback, CEO of Revision3 (content producer)
- Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola (distribution and aggregation)
- Brett Wilson, CEO of Tubemogul (distribution and ad network)
- Steve Woolf, VP content blip (aggregation and network)
We’ll start with one question, and will cover the other two in upcoming posts:
What was the biggest news/development/trend of 2011 in online video?
Jim Louderback: “YouTube priming the pump with hundreds of millions.”
Steve Woolf: “Number 1 was investment in content. YouTube has justly garnered most of the press around this with their channel initiative, but Yahoo, AOL, Netflix, and Hulu, among others, have either launched new initiatives that signal an increased amount of investment in original web video content, or continued their support of internal programs designed to keep web video programming progressing into the mainstream.
Number 2 is that media buyers finally get it. If the ad buys and RFPs coming to blip are any indication for the original web series market, brands and agencies are finally starting to understand the value of these eyeballs.
Media buy sizes and campaign lengths took off like a rocket in 2011, and huge RFPs come to us on a daily basis now. We look at it as validation of the position we've had for years. Perhaps most interesting was the shift in peak viewership -- for us, the prime-time hours became our biggest viewing period, indicating that audiences are looking at original Web series as a legitimate alternative to television entertainment. This is a compelling metric to media buyers.”
Matt Heiman: “Mobile usage. Roughly 20% of our views are now on mobile, representing incremental views sold at a premium.” (Heiman’s company is based in Europe, historically always one step ahead of North America (until the iPhone came along, of course).
Adam Singolda: “I think the biggest change in 2011 versus the previous year is that video monetization became real, and maybe even possible for the first time. I saw the industry stuck in 2010, where it didn't matter if publishers increased their video views, as there was not a lot to do with that increase.
In 2011, between companies like Tremor, Yume, Adap.tv and more -- video is monetizable and in different ways and formats. I think the actual details of what ad format is the best -- whether it's skippable ad, overlay, from an exchange or through a traditional pre-roll -- is less important than the bottom line. For the first time, video inventory equals money.
Of course, just as online is starting to ‘grow up’ and take shape, we’re seeing emerging platforms take off.”
Brett Wilson explains why we saw an investment in content:
Brett Wilson: “More demand than supply, leading to the launch of multiple exchanges and CPMs trending upward for top sites. This scarcity also led to the rise of fake pre-roll gaming the system, which totals over 3.3 million impressions per day according to technology we built to block it.”
Brian Fitzgerald explains what led to things taking off:
Brian Fitzgerald: “The establishment and fairly rapid adoption of VAST 2.0 as a standard, and agencies pushing for compliance with it.”
To conclude: I think YouTube’s dominance was the story.
- YouTube spent anywhere from $100-$250 million in guaranteed money to lock up content exclusively for one year. This makes YouTube the only online company doing “upfronts,” and continues its scorched-earth philosophy of making it hard for any other aggregator to build a business around video online.
- YouTube and comScore’s partnership to open up audience measurement per channel will give an incentive to many producers who rely on YouTube for distribution to invest in a sales team or at least have a shot at building a business around their YouTube presence.
- But the clutter that content creators face online is an obstacle: with over 48 hours of content uploaded to YouTube each minute, the reality is that most content creators cannot justify the expensive process of producing content. While in aggregate there’s more video viewing than ever, each video seems to represent a needle in a haystack. Ultimately, content needs to be i) good enough and ii) produced at the right price point to make it worthwhile.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the next article in this series.