The popularity of user-generated video remains one of the most profound phenomena of the digital age -- but not necessarily of the digital economy. Consumers are demanding, and media companies are providing, access to more premium video content online than ever before. After several years of experimentation, it's clear that the real money in online video remains where it always has been historically -- with professionally produced content created by leading media and entertainment companies.
Long-form video (anything longer than 30 seconds) can be distributed using a variety of mechanisms. As most industry folks are aware, generating incremental audience for these videos has largely revolved around structuring revenue share arrangements with third-party publishers. Under this arrangement, third-party sites sell the advertising avails and split the revenue with the producer. This type of syndication model works fine for content that is evergreen, but there is simply no way to guarantee that a specific number of targeted viewers will watch the content during a specific time frame.
It's inevitable that we see some consolidation in the video content and technology sectors. The only question is, who will be doing the buying? That list is long and varied, and don't be surprised if ad rep firms and ad networks jump into the fray.
As quotes from the late New York Yankees "Boss" George Steinbrenner were resurrected by the dozens this past week, one that stuck out for me was: "Look, if you're not on offense, you're on defense." So while economic forecasters spend the summer debating the pros and cons of stimulus versus austerity, it's clear that the macroeconomic picture in the U.S. is not looking good. Are we on offense? Or defense? WWGD?
In 2009, I coined the term "The Golden 15" to describe the four portals (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft & AOL), the four broadcasters (ABC, CBS, FOX & NBC), the five cable conglomerates (Comcast, Disney, MTV, Turner & Viacom), along with Hulu, MySpace and Facebook. Well, the Golden 15 are looking a bit bronze at the moment. Why is this?
A friend of mine from a major cable network recently told me, after his network completed its TV upfront selling for 2010/11, how amazed he was at how much selling could be done through fear and the perception of what defines premium inventory. We can visit the second part of that comment another time, but for now I'd like to focus on the first part, still common throughout TV ad sales: Fear sells.
The TV set-top box was marginalized by Steve Jobs at the recent AllThingD conference. Although counter to his stated position, Jobs is most likely executing on a long-term go-to-market strategy of securing more TV content; eventually, TV content could propel his device business forward for years to come. If the TV industry's attention remains diverted toward correcting all the imperfections within the ratings "system," we could be opening the door for more outside disruption from the entire device sector.
At a recent Interactive Advertising Bureau board meeting, two very well-respected agency executives were asked what the No. 1 barrier to growth was for online advertising. The answer was "measurement."
One of the most frequently asked questions I get comes from fellow content producers who want to know: "How can I generate revenues as a video content producer?" It's not easy or quick, but it is helpful to try to maximize revenues by viewing your revenue opportunity as a matrix with platforms on one axis and sources on another.
For viewers, more than production value or even celebrity, premium is a matter of value consistency. If I tune into "30 Rock," there's a high probability that I will be entertained in a specific way. That is still extremely hard to find in content that isn't primarily distributed on TV first. Viewers also derive value from a shared experience on and offline. Marketers also assign a premium value to consistency -- it helps them align messages and assure that their brands are appearing in the right place at the right time. What else separates premium video from everything else?