Commentary

So Many Memes...New Video Curating Helpers Are Like Dating Services

TV Guide went from a publication that did a great job covering three networks, to a magazine that did a slightly less great job covering three networks plus a handful of cable channels, to a magazine that basically found it impossible to really be a daily, published-on-paper guide to anything.

The proliferation of broadcasting, cable and pay-per-view made TV kind of an unguide-able place -- which is what online video is right now. 

Billions of pieces of content, and billions of pieces of advertising, are out there, lonely, desperate and dateless.

There are also guides to what’s findable online, but, it seems most of them come disguised in other ways. If you go to Gawker or TV Newser or Mashable or Huffington Post (or hundreds, or thousands) of other sites, you’ll find frequent and ample links to current videos. It's a kind of hunt and peck.

That’s no way to become a live rail in the content business, and there are a lot of people trying. You can see why. Within three years, video will make up something like 70% of all the consumer Internet traffic, and somebody’s got to be directing the traffic.

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Recently, YouTube teamed up DreamWorks animation teamed to start YouTube Nation, a Monday-through-Friday “best-of” what’s happening now on YouTube. Good luck there. It’s an impossible idea, since 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, but the concept is on the mark.

YouTube and DreamWorks promise the YouTube Nation won’t favor its own projects (like DreamWork’s Awesomeness, which it bought for $33 million less than a year ago). Still, YouTube Nation, hosted by the engaging Jacob Soboroff, is just five minutes long. Right now, it seems totally pegged to a “hot” factor that doesn't seems to care about varied interests or race or age. It just seems to be about the same kind of uninspiring “hot” that “Entertainment Tonight” blabs about. 

Maybe it will get better, and when it does, DreamWorks will look smart to be there. For now, it seems to be directing YouTubers to a lot of places they’d be going anyway.

There’s another new Internet content selector, called 5by, that exists as an app—alas, only on iPad and iPhones at this point—that will pick videos for you to watch and, indeed calls itself a “video concierge.” Like a dating service, Reuters reports that it asks what you like and what your friends are like and what your dream vacation looks like. Then, it picks videos based on that, plus the amount of time you tell 5by that you’ve got to do all this watching.  

A Canadian company, 5by got bought out last year by StumbleUpon, the Web site that finds interesting stuff for you to see on the Internet, based on the number of boxes you check on a list they provide. It must have seen this as a natural way to grow. The business news service also says another app, called Rabt, creates an hour’s worth of videos for users every day, based on personalities, preferences and your own photo.

With a huge gain in the number of people watching videos on mobile devices, 5by and Rabt sound intriguing, and each of them come with built-in data collecting capabilities that could be used by advertisers. There are stats that say 10% of all video plays happen on mobile and tablets, and that’s probably bad data by now because video consumption is growing so fast. So, obviously, there's a market.

In fact, YouTube says 40% of its views come via mobile last year. The huge downside is obvious. The more curating that’s done, the less likely it will be audiences will find the other stuff—and on the Internet, “the other stuff” constitutes 99.99% of all there is. But on the third hand, people aren't finding it now, either.

pj@mediapost.com

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