I love video on the web. The part I like best is not watching "Dollhouse" on every platform under the sun from Fox to Hulu to iPhone (actually, I don't know if you can watch it on the iPhone or not). I like the diversity of the programming coming from young entrepeneurs like Zadi Diaz, new net networks like Revison3, blip.tv and Next New Networks, more personal efforts from tradiitonal "stars" like Will Farrell. Brands have a great opportunity to connect and engage via video on the Web either through partnering with content programmers - like TerraTV on blip.tv - or becoming their own programmers. Either way, we need to adopt a new discipline to be successful with video going forward.
I just met with a group of tremendously creative show "creators" in LA who will launch a program online over the next few months. They have all been enmeshed in the entertainment business and they know where the business has been and suspect where it is going. I love their passion, their show concept, and their smartness about making the business side work. I have a lot of heart for their project. Still , succeeding is complicated.
While there are some breakout successes like Seth MacFarlane's channel, most video shows on the Web follow the reverse hockey stick approach where the highly promoted first episode draws a big crowd followed by depressing fall off in episodes 2,3,4. This freefall leaves many programs struggling in the long, long tail. Video production has a threshold level of effort and cost that it cannot routinely dip below. We all want "quality." And while we may be willing to accept Flipcam video interviews and an occaissional clever video thrown together in the backyard by two brothers and a dog, we generally want quality represented by the thinking, creativity, and even production value of the show.
True Show Value
Challenge is that the cost of quality, value to the audience and advertising value formula has not really been cracked yet or cracked consistently enough to spell out a path to success.That is the True Show Value and every producer should know their formula before trying the sell their program. This is broader than TubeMogul's formula for success which focuses mainly on the creation and distribution of the video and the metadata associated with it. These things are important and I presume most video producers online get this. Too many programs either struggle to build an appreciable audience (size + composition) or to define the value to the advertiser. "Sponsoring" a show that may reach 10,000 uniques of which you know so little about may not translate into a perceived value to the advertiser. I am choosing my words carefully because I believe marketing integration with great content provides great value, I just don't think everyone is great at demonstrating that value.
Many brands want to suceed by reaching their customers or their influencers via video. Brands are learning that they can succeed by becoming content creators and building relationships via that content. Consumer marketers want to create their own episodics that draw moms in for 6-12 epsiodes. B2B marketers want to build a long term relationship with buyers and opinion-formers of their services. How can brands succeed where dedicated video entrepeneurs themselves struggle?
Four Strategic Priorities
There are four strategic priorities that will help. each day this week, I will drill down into one of the four. They represent the disciplined thinking that we need in this next chapter of video on the Web. I believe niche, special interest shows will flourish and I believe brands will reap great value from being a part of or even outright creating their own shows that consumers will increasingly spend time with. One of the keys may be in letting the crowd within a commlunity tell us what they want in terms of programming. Stay tuned as I drill down into each as the week unfolds:
Focus on the Value to Niche, Affinity Communities
- Work the "Ladder of Engagement"
- Idea Bar #12: Threadless Meets Next New Networks
- Design Creative Marketing Models