Analysis for 'Events'

  • Results of Post-VideoSchmooze Reader Survey

    Yesterday I posted a short 4-question survey following up last week's VideoSchmooze panel discussion of how connected and mobile devices are transforming the video landscape. Below are the results along with my short reactions plus how I would have voted on each question.

    Question 1: Do you agree with the VideoSchmooze panelists that connected and mobile devices are mostly additive to the traditional pay-TV model, or do you think they are mostly disruptive to the traditional pay-TV model?

    My reactions: Despite all the media coverage this year that new devices spell the demise of the pay-TV industry with rampant cord-cutting just ahead, readers seem to agree with the panel that instead they are mostly additive. While there's no doubt that that they present a significant challenge to incumbents, there is also early evidence that pay-TV operators are broadening their mindsets and trying to incorporate these devices into the experiences they offer (Comcast's new Android app unveiled yesterday is just the latest example). I would have voted "not sure/too early to tell" primarily because aside from the biggest pay-TV operators, there are a lot of others that aren't embracing new devices at all. It remains to be seen how aggressive these operators will be and as a result what devices' impact on the whole pay-TV industry will be.

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  • 4 Items Worth Noting (comScore, Viral videos' formula, Netflix, VideoSchmooze) for Sept 26th Week

    Following are 4 news items worth noting from the week of Sept. 26th:

    1. Summer '09 was a blockbuster for online video - comScore released U.S. online video viewership data early this week, providing evidence of how big a blockbuster the summer months were for each metric comScore tracks. The 3 metrics that I watch most closely each month showed the healthiest gains vs. April, the last pre-summer month comScore reported. Total videos viewed in August were 25.4 billion, a 51% increase over April's 16.8 billion. The average number of videos watched per viewer was 157, up 41% from April's 111. And the average online video viewer watched 582 minutes (9.7 hours), a 51% increase from April's 385 (6.4 hours).

    Also worth noting was YouTube crossing the 10 billion videos viewed in a single month mark for the first time, maintaining a 39.6% share of the market. According to comScore's stats I've collected, YouTube has been in the 39% to 44% market share range since May '08, having increased from 16.2% in Jan '07 when comScore first started reporting. Hulu also notched a winning month. While its unique viewers fell slightly to 38.5M from 40.1M in April, its total video views increased from 396M to 488.2M, with its average viewer watching 12.7 videos for a total of 1 hour and 17 minutes. It will be very interesting to see if September's numbers hold these trends or dip back to pre-summer levels.

    2. So this is how to make funny viral branded videos - I was intrigued by a piece in ClickZ this week, "There's a Serious Business Behind Funny Viral Videos" which provided three points of view - from, The Onion and Mekanism (a S.F.-based creative production agency) - about how to make branded content funny and then how to make it go viral. The article points out that a whole new sub-specialty has emerged to service brands looking to get noticed online with their own humorous content.

    Humor works so well because the time to hook someone into a video is no more than 2-3 seconds according to Mekanism's Tommy Means. Beyond humor, successful videos most often include stunts or cool special effects or shock value. Once produced the real trick is leveraging the right distribution network to drive viral reach. For example, Means describes a network of 100 influencers with YouTube channels who can make a video stand out. After reading the article you get the impression that there's nothing random about which funny videos get circulated; there's a lot of strategy and discipline involved behind the scenes.

    3. Wired magazine's article on Netflix is too optimistic - I've had several people forward me a link to Wired magazine's article, "Netflix Everywhere: Sorry Cable You're History" in which author Daniel Roth makes the case that by Netflix embedding its streaming video software in multiple consumer electronics devices, the company has laid the groundwork for a rash of cable cord-cutting by consumers.

    I've been bullish for sometime on Netflix's potential as an "over-the-top" video alternative. But despite all of Netflix's great progress, particularly on the device side, its Achilles' heel remains content selection for its Watch Instantly streaming feature (as an example, my wife and I have repeatedly tried to find appealing recent movies to stream, but still often end up settling for classic, but older movies like "The English Patient").

    Roth touches on this conundrum too, but in my opinion takes a far too optimistic point of view about what a deal like the one Netflix did with Starz will do to eventually give Netflix access to Hollywood's biggest and most current hits. The Hollywood windowing system is so rigid and well-protected that I've long-since concluded the only way Netflix is going to crack the system is by being willing to write big checks to Hollywood, a move that Netflix CEO is unlikely to make. The impending launch of TV Everywhere is going to create whole new issues for budding OTT players.

    Although I'm a big Netflix fan, and in fact just ordered another Roku, I'm challenged to understand how Netflix is going to solve its content selection dilemma. This is one of the topics we'll discuss at VideoNuze's CTAM Summit breakfast on Oct. 26th in Denver, which includes Roku's VP of Consumer Products Tim Twerdahl.

    4. VideoSchmooze is just 1 1/2 weeks away - Time is running out to register for the "VideoSchmooze" Broadband Video Leadership Evening, coming up on Tues, Oct 13th from 6-9pm at the Hudson Theater in NYC. We have an amazing discussion panel I'll be moderating with Dina Kaplan (, George Kliavkoff (Hearst), Perkins Miller (NBC Sports) and Matt Strauss (Comcast). We'll be digging into all the hottest broadband and mobile video questions, with plenty of time for audience Q&A.

    Following the panel we'll have cocktails and networking with industry colleagues you'll want to meet. Registration is running very strong, with companies like Sprint, Google/YouTube, Cox, MTV, Cox, PBS, NY Times, Morgan Stanley, Hearst, Showtime, Hulu, Telemundo, Cisco, HBO, Motorola and many others all represented. Register now!

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  • 5 Conclusions from Broadband Ad Webcast

    Yesterday's Internet TV Advertising Forum/Maven Networks webcast "Pre-Roll vs. Overlay: Consumer Reaction to New Online Video Advertising Formats" yielded a lot of interesting usability information about various broadband video ad formats. For any content provider or aggregator who's relying on advertising as their business model of choice, it's clear that there are some significant opportunities and challenges ahead.

    Below is a summary of the 5 key usability conclusions I heard in the webcast along with my take on each:

    1. Users hate pre-rolls. Respondents overwhelmingly agreed that video ads are annoying and have developed the same kinds of coping techniques (tuning out, bailing out, etc.) they use to avoid TV ads.

    My take: Yes, but unfortunately for users, I don't see pre-rolls going away any time soon. They're easy to execute, fit media buying habits well, are selling strongly especially for high-quality long-form video and best for advertisers seeking a tonic from DVR behaviors, pre-rolls can't be outright skipped by users. Given all this, let's all hope that targeting improves and publishers use them with some discipline, so users don't preemptively turn off to the broadband video medium.

    2. Overlay ads' effectiveness is correlated to content fit, not demographics. Testing showed that users welcomed ads for products that were highly related to the content itself, and lost interest the less related the two were. Demos were less important.

    My take: This point reinforces the importance of contextual targeting, which of course has worked well on the Internet as a whole. Yet as Bob Kernen at Maven says, a lot of content is "non-endemic" (i.e. doesn't lend itself to specific products or ads), so my guess is that this correlation opportunity is going to be lost for many content providers. Network programs in particular seem non-endemic and therefore will need to rely mainly on demo-based and possibly behavioral targeting.

    3. Overlay ads need better execution to work well. Jeff Rosenblum from Questus summarized 8 best practices for executing overlay ads, such as appropriate frequency and duration, user control, calls-to-action, navigation and the like. For anyone looking to run an overlay campaign (and even for those who have), these serve as a great roadmap of do's and don't's.

    My take: As always, executing right can make the difference between a campaign's success and failure. If you're planning to run an overlay campaign, I highly suggest you review this checklist against your plans to make sure you haven't overlooked anything.

    4. It's difficult to engage an audience. The testing again showed how hard it is to engage online audiences, regardless of approach. Bob laid out a handy engagement hierarchy, Impression, Interaction and Immersion (from least to most engaging). Knowing what level of engagement your campaign aspires to must guide specific tactics and execution.

    My take: Getting the consumer's attention and prompting them to act is the ad industry's oldest goal. It's even harder in the broadband sector. People have shorter attention spans than ever, so grabbing them and getting them to do what you hope gets more difficult all the time. Fortunately video offers emotional appeal unlike any text or graphical ad in the Internet world, so broadband offers new engagement techniques previously unavailable.

    5. More research needed. While this first round of usability testing from the Internet Ad Forum shed a lot of new light on the broadband ad opportunity, it's clearly just a first step. The Forum has ambitious goals to keep researching and testing, continuously educating the market.

    My take: As I mentioned in my remarks at the beginning of the webcast, everyone has a vested interest in solidifying the ad model as soon as possible. The enthusiasm around broadband will soon dry up if participants don't earn an acceptable ROI for their efforts.

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