What GOVA’s Gavone Means to Online Video and the New Networks

There’s a new Global Online Video Association led by Paul Kontonis. What does it means to YouTube and the networks like Collective, Maker, Machinima, Fullscreen and others?

He’s the new GOVA Gavone. The leader of the online video association. The guy who’s scream silences a room.

AdWeek reports that Paul Kontonis, former online video producer and agency guy, is heading the new Global Online Video Association (GOVA). Kontonis has been a leader in the online video space from its inception, including such roles as founder of “For Your Imagination,” VP at Digitas’ Third Act, and chairman of International Academy of Web Television.

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Paul Kontonis is the gavone who heads GOVA, the new online-video trade association.

By day, Kontonis heads sales and strategy for one of the top “multichannel networks” (MCNs) called Collective Digital Studio. GOVA is made up of nine of the top MCNs (also called online-video studios and “new networks”). These include Collective, Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Big Frame, BroadbandTV, DECA, Discovery’s Revision3, Magnet Media and MiTu Networks. Machinima is conspicuously absent, but unlikely for long (it’s quite common for the biggest in an industry to initially think they don’t need an association).

GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs
GOVA represents 9 of the top 10 online-video studios, or MCNs

Caveat: I know Kontonis and like him (which is why I am allowed to call him a gavone as a term of respect). He was even in one of my videos where I thought I turned invisible. But I haven’t spoken to him in a while and know nothing directly about his GOVA appointment. So this is all my speculation based on watching this space mature. And I wrote a book, so shut up.

What’s ahead, and what does GOVA mean to the networks and the maturing landscape of online video?

  • Susan Wojcicki, the leader of YouTube.
    Susan Wojcicki, leader of YouTube, is focused on mainstream players. GOVA may help keep her attention on smaller studios.

    Bargaining Power with YouTube. The online-video networks, or “multichannel networks,” will now have a collective voice they’ll need more in coming years. That’s in part because YouTube, the virtual monopoly on distribution, is increasingly turning its attention to more mainstream studios and traditional networks. As YouTube grows, it will be increasingly difficult for individual studios to command the attention they’ve received in the past. How do we know that? History is the best predictor: Initially top YouTube stars could garner attention from Google and resolve issues. But eventually YouTube creators needed the power of a network. The networks don’t know it yet, but in years ahead they’ll need strength in greater numbers than they have today.

  • Bumpy Road, Herding Cats. Associations can be tricky, as participants theoretically want a collective voice, but they’re also competing against each other for precious advertising dollars. Kontonis has shown he’s got the diplomacy and persuasion to herd these network cats.
  • GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for "amateurs."
    GOVA may help keep emerging studios independent, which is good for “amateurs.”

    Could Slow Down Acquisitions. In the coming years, we’d expect to see more of these online-video networks get acquired by larger players. Discovery ate Revision3. Google ate Next New Networks.  GOVA may give some of these players more time to play independently, if they wish, before the eventual consolidation of traditional and “multichannel” networks in the 2015-2020 period.  That doesn’t mean the MCNs will be less attractive to acquiring parties, it just means they won’t be as desperate to be sold. That’s a very good thing for individual creators of these networks. (When they do get acquired, they’ll try to convince you it’s a good thing…  but as a loyal WVFF reader you’ll know better).

  • GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies
    GOVA can help negotiate with emerging video-playing technologies

    Developing Emerging Channels to Reduce Dependency on YouTube. As we look beyond YouTube, the major stakeholders are technology companies, advertisers, and content creators. Years ago, an individual studio could negotiate their video content onto new platforms — like we saw Revision3 do with Roku and College Humor do with TiVo. But that will be more difficult as stakes increase and traditional networks start seeing more meaningful “TV dollars” moving to emerging channels. This coordinated approach through GOVA will increase the studio’s voice with new platforms. Watch for GOVA serving a role to keep them “out in front” of new platforms — from Roku to Netflix and Hulu to Amazon. And more importantly, the emerging video distribution platforms we don’t yet see coming. Maybe one day even AppleTV!

  • Other Boring But Important Crap. GOVA can also help with legislation/regulation, advertising formats, metric standardization, growth of the online-video, and thought leadership. Depending on the issue, they will likely partner and challenge other players like IAB, ComScore, traditional media associations, and marketing agencies.
  • Four More Years. That’s how long I see this lasting. By 2018, we’d expect GOVA to roll into the Internet Advertising BureauIRTS or some other association. But no other association has the knowledge of or focus on this medium.
  • Bottom Line. Creators and studios need GOVA whether they know it or not. Otherwise the technology platforms and advertisers will set the agenda.
maker, deco, big frame, deca, magnet, fullscreen, collective, web, studios, networks, online, youtube
9 out of the top 10 “multichannel networks” are included in the new association.

Original Web Series Debuted at “Video Everywhere”

I’m just back from iMedia Connection’s Video Everywhere event in San Antonio, and a highlight was Paul Kontonis presenting a bunch of new web series.

I’m not sure these are yet posted online, but this much I can say: online video production is beginning to resemble that of television.

Matt Timothy (Vindico) had a visceral performance using stress cubes.

Another interesting tidbit… almost as many people watch a video online as conduct a search. I’d estimate video viewing will surpass searches in the next year or two, and that makes Google’s acquisition of YouTube kinda not that stupid.

It’s a good thing Google did some ethnographic research before swallowing YouTube, right?

P.S. Since it’s “all about me” day, here’s my bio on iMedia.

Proving Social-Media Articles Don’t Have to Suck

No, all social-media articles don’t have to suck.

MediaPost’s Kelly Samardak takes us into a speakeasy during a social-media Mental Prohibition in this coverage of “Digital Cocktails: Keys to Social Media Success.” The piece, part business and human interest, chronicles the event — hosted at the NYC studios of ForYourImagination (where you can pass the social-media “dutchie on the left hand side“).

It’s a cool and quirky narrative exploring the social behavior of those advancing the NYC social media ‘n digital media advertainment scene, while these well-intentioned expatriates try to make enough money for this month’s rent, a new book, and an $11.50 pack of Merits (not necessarily in that order).

Maybe I’m charmed by the article because I’ve had a bong snap of the venue’s mojo, and can almost smell the couch at FYI studio as I read.  Samardak refers to it as “funky…. soft, coffee-house-like, velvety furniture bordered the usual white chairs used for panel viewing.” Now can you see why I get offended at a list of “The New Establishment” (Revision3, NextNewNetwork, Mondo, etc) that fails to include FYI?

ForYourImagination's studios, captured during a less cool event

You haven’t whiffed the inner belly of the online-video-social-media-digital-branded-entertainment advertising coup d’éta until you’ve been “shhhh’d” by Paul Kontonis (professional squealer and one of the most huggable people in emerging media). Can you blame him? You were gabbing too loudly with YouTube nerd stars while he was trying to introduce his virtual family members to some… new video hosting streaming adver-creative case study thing. “Hey, Radio Shack… we’re learning here.”

Parenthetically, have you not had the pleasure of sipping Kontinis’ invisible juice? That video’s up to a not-too-shabby 600K views, Paul. Will “Businessman Snow Fail” top Invisible? We doubt either of our YouTube Miller’s Bests will impress the martini web-series production man. He indulged me with his cameo despite visible befuddles, reverberated by qualms of co-unwitting-cast member Daisy Whitney… the Ginger to Samardak’s Mary Anne. Just keep moving, kids.

Feel your heart rate lower as you sink into Samardak’s recount of the crowd chuckling to pictures from “This Is Why You’re Fat (TIWYF).” And you’ve got to love this byte: “Kontonis is a moderator to benchmark… rather than asking a question, listening to each panelist, responding with “great,”  and then moving on, he talked with them, sometimes even challenging them to answer questions better, as if saying “if I were in the audience I wouldn’t accept that — go further.”

Samardak pokes Carrot Creative’s Katy Kelly, noting that the crowd giggled when Katy accidentally called TIWYF, “this is why I think you’re fat.” And Katy’s quote, (“you get what you pay for,”) quipped Samardak, put her in the “minor vs major league quoting strategy with clients.” snap oh no you dint.

Just when I was thinking 12 e-mail newsletters from MediaPost might warrant an opt-out surrender, I’m rescued by Samardak’s bid-ness poetry (check out the “Sneeze on the Salad Bar” piece).

Have I met her? I think so. I don’t know. It could have been Shira Lazar wearing a sombrero. You perky brunette journalists start to all look alike anymore.

The Uninvisible Man (with Daisy Whitney)

Sometimes you have to bring those industry watchers off the bleachers and into the game. Here we see Daisy Whitney in her amateur-video debut… The Uninvisible Man.

The TVWeek writer and host of New Media Minute was gracious enough to appear in this short video where I turn invisible… well at least I think I was invisible. Also appearing is Paul Kontonis, who heads up the online-video studio, ForYourImagination. We’ve seen Paul before in a few videos, including  on a panel screaming like a girl when I pulled a pratfall. I could watch that scream 1000 times and not fatigue of it.

While we were there we also recorded a pilot of “The Pussy Cat Review Show.” Needless to say, the low-budget show was immediately cancelled after the dailies revealed it’s a complete flop. Stay tuned for some never-before-and-never-seen-again footage.

Pratfall Spices Up Viral-Video Panel

Guy falls on stage during panel about viral videoSo I took a deliberate spill while hosting a panel at Streaming Media East called “Creating and Promoting Amateur Videos.” Paul Kontonis, CEO of For Your Imagination, screamed like a teenage girl, but was one of few people that realized it was a joke.

The fall is 1 minutes and 9 seconds in. Warning: Per my YouTube video today explaining this, when you do a pratfall that people think is real, you’ve backed yourself into a corner. If you say “I was just kidding,” you simple make it look like you’re saving face. So I didn’t bother to explain.

You actually may want to watch more of this video because it explores what makes a video viral, and how marketers and amateurs can promote their video using online video sites and blogs. It was an all-star cast (except me): Paul Kontonis, CEO, Co-Founder, For Your Imagination; J. Crowley, Founder, Black20; Ben Relles, Founder and CEO, BarelyPolitical.com (the guy who created Obama Girl); and Kip “Kipkay” Kedersha, Viral Video Producer, Metacafe Top Producer.Here are the rest of the Streaming Media Videos, including a session called “Young People’s Attitudes Toward Online Video,” which includes Dylan of Dylan’s Couch (CinemaFreaks on YouTube). And be sure to comment on the “For Your Imagination” blog. Something like “Nalts is a genius. I can’t believe you signed Xgobobeanx and not him.” And thanks to Jennifer and TubeMogul.com for help embedding this (I finally installed a “Raw HTML” WordPress plug-in so I can insert widget thingies and other Web 4.0 things).