2006 was dubbed the year of Online Video with the explosion of user generated video content on sites like You Tube, My Space, Revver, Metacafe, Blip.TV and dozens more.
These efficient Web Portals have changed the nature of video distribution providing everyday people all over the world with easy tools to upload and share their video content with millions of viewers.
Video on the web is just beginning, it is rapidly expanding beyond the clip culture of short, amateurish videos of comic, tragic, or very candid moments in everyday life. Some of these are positively entertaining while others are unedited and painful scenes that one could regret viewing.
The runaway success of video on the web has attracted the attention of media conglomerates, corporations and non profits alike.
While the business models are still being worked out, executives can certainly sense the potential as Google’s 1.65 billion dollar purchase of industry leader You Tube made clear.
WHO’S WATCHING ONLINE VIDEO?
With all the attention of online video it’s important to understand the audience; short comedic clips have proven to be extremely popular they get watched by thousands of viewers and get spread virally through hundreds of websites.
So, who’s watching? According to Erin Hunter, a media and entertainment specialist @ comScore Networks, an internet information provider, there isn’t any demographic that is not watching video online; it’s not just college and high school kids, it’s older folks too, both men and women.
Online entertainment ranges from entertainment, to sports and news … all with active and regular viewership. Because web video viewing has such broad appeal, many web media advertisers see big potential online.
Market research firms Park’s Associates says that by 2010 revenues from internet video services are projected to exceed 7 billion dollars from 1 billion in 2006. (Information Week-Business Innovation Powered By Technology)
The rapid growth of video on the web wouldn’t have been possible without the development of broadband internet. Broadband internet is a high data transmission rate internet connection frequently piped into your home by cable modems or DSL.
Connecting to the internet using broadband allows information to get to you faster.
According to Nielsen / Netratings, 95 million Americans have this connection in their homes and many more have high speed connections at their places of employment. They also provide the statistics stating that 35 million of these subscribers regularly download music and video. Video has a lot of digital information and therefore takes up a lot of space on your hard drive; one hour of video equals 12 GB of information, the equivalent of 18 CD’s.
Before this video can be put on the web and easily watched, it must first be compressed. Special compression software weeds out unnecessary digital information, reducing the amount of data a digital video file takes up without sacrificing the final viewing quality of the file too drastically.
Once a video file is made it can then be uploaded to video sharing sites like YouTube and Revver or it can be emailed to your friends and family.
Who is Making Online Video & Where Can We See it on the Web?
In addition to the amateur video clips that are the mainstay of video sharing sites like You Tube, there are also video blogs or vlogs, created by vloggers.
One popular video blogger is Josh Leo a twenty something living in Grand Rapids, Michigan who regularly posts videos on an assortment of everyday topics like preparing how to pop the question to his girlfriend to his search for the best hotdog in all of Grand Rapids.
Others in the amateur category include Citizen Journalist, regular people who report on topics like Hurricane Katrina or the Iraq war. A widely popular video blog like Alive In Baghdad features weekly videos examining the effects of the Iraq war on Iraqi citizens. It brings testimonies and footage of daily life in Iraq and footage of daily life and news segments that you are not likely to see on your local news station.
Site was voted the best overall Vlog at the 2006 Vloggie Awards.
Video distributing websites include those that specialize in those niche, personalized or local content. Who would have ever thought that there would be a site just for wine or biking.
Sites like these may not appeal to the broad masses but they don’t necessarily have to in order in order to find success. The ease and relative low cost with which these sites can distribute their content, has allowed them to thrive on the web, where people from all over the world come to find information on the specific topics that interest them most.
Unlike television or film where the costs and risk level for advertising are incredibly high, online distribution of the same information is lean, inexpensive and nimble allowing for a greater specialization of content than the more traditional media distribution of information would ever allow.
BEYOND THE AMATEURS
While a lot of the initial excitement with online video has stemmed from the increased presence of amateur content, the benefits of this new means of video distribution have not been lost on larger corporations and public institutions.
COMMERCIAL AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
Traditional marketing and advertising companies are getting in on online video as a way of connecting with their customers and doing their own Public Relations. This is being done not to just sell products, but to try and reshape corporate images. After all, ‘why try and get your message out through journalists …’ goes the thinking … ‘when you can go straight to the consumer?’
WALMART, for example, has been trying to counteract the impression that it treats it’s workers poorly and is bad for communities. The company is trying to communicate better with the media and directly with it’s customers with web video.
Another example would be JetBlue after grounding planes and customers for hours on the tarmac following a snow storm, the Jet Blue attempted damage control by emailing a video apology by David Neeleman, Jet Blue’s CEO.