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Sun, 31 Jan 2010

Dynamics of Internet Video Publishing

My day-to-day job deals with video on the internet. Working with video has encouraged me to seek out and use a bunch of video-sharing sites to make sure our own site(s) are working, see how other people are doing the similar things, get ideas for features, feature parity and a whole host of other reasons.

I’ve currently got video up on, YouTube, and Facebook. Missing from this list are Vimeo / Break, Flickr (just uploaded some some short videos to collect a few more data points) and I’m sure a few others.

There are a lot of ways to slice and dice online video, notably absent from my list of sites is Hulu because I am not a big media company. Facebook (for example) doesn’t tend to attract professionally produced videos because it doesn’t have as much history as a site for public videos as much as it does for private videos. YouTube is clearly dominating the “wants everybody to see it” space as well as pirate copies of last night’s funny TV clips.

My general use of online video has been to post classical guitar video clips for my own motivation of learning and improving. That makes me an “inconsistent episodic publisher” … in between the person uploading video from last night’s party and Mr. Universal Studios ticking the “internet” checkbox on their distribution channel list.

In my opinion, the future of what we now call television is going to start from “inconsistent episodic publishers”. Look at StrongBad, “It’s Amazing”, ShitMyDadSays, Cheeseburger, FailBlog, etc. and that includes video. Anybody can be entertaining once or twice, but people who consistently entertain attract an audience, and an audience (can) attract money.

Bringing things back around to video on the internet- I as a publisher get the most out of sites that give me the most feedback from my audience. Take a look at this “Video Insights / Discovery” panel from YouTube:

Contrast this with the information that I got from

…apart from the fact that I don’t have any ratings, there’s no histogram breakdown and the only other statistic that I get is “view count”. Thanks for nothing. The other video sites (including Facebook) aren’t much better, although I would have to think that Flickr’s Pro stats would start to give you some other breakdowns.

As a publisher, given the choice between “300 views” and “Your video just went viral on mobile phones in Canada”, I’m picking option “B” please, with an extra helping of ratings breakdowns and views over time.

This is predicated on having the basics working right (video transcodes, quickly, plays back, consistently, little to no downtime, etc), which is challenging in its own right. Since we’re past the point of “the basics have to work”, if you’re planning on doing stuff with video, make real sure you have a good statistics package on the backend or the ability to provide statistics back to publishers. The super-small-timers won’t care but the medium-to-large-timers will definitely appreciate it.

The wild-card in all this to me is Facebook / “Social Media”. If we cede the point that “YouTube has the data that publishers want”, we miss out on the fact that Facebook (or Twitter or Orkut / whatever) provides you with a built-in audience of people who likely want to watch your video.

What I see as the killer combo is posting YouTube videos to Facebook because you get all the distribution and social tools (sharing, fans, comments, etc) from Facebook, but the rich viewing statistics from YouTube.

The other video sites each might have some specialty aspect that they’re better at than others, but for episodic publishers nothing beats the audience stats that YouTube can provide.

For the individual / family video publisher, it seems that Facebook video is the way to go because you get the appropriate privacy controls and comments, and you generally aren’t concerned with demographics / statistics. You could get most of the way there by adding a checkbox after viewing saying: “Joe Smith watched this video [save]” … think of it like the “Like” button but basically providing a way for me as the poster to say: “@Joe Smith should watch this video” and keeping track of who has and hasn’t seen it yet.

09:59 CST | category / entries
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