Online Video (2010 in sad pictures)

Wowzer how about the peaks and valleys of online video in the past year. I had a peek at Alexa.com to see how some of the smaller independent online-video sites are holding up. Not too well based on traffic. A caveat: Alexa does not capture visitors precisely, or count the embedded views. So these pictures may tell a sadder story than reality.

Still, it’s clear that the top online video properties are mostly established players not independents (below is Nielsen chart from last year). Hulu, YouTube and Facebook are well-backed startups or owned by large companies, and the rest are established media brands (MSN, Fox, CNN, ESPN, MLB).

The lesson learned from the flat or declining charts below? While there are plenty of places to benefit economically from the convergence of computers and television, the odds are not good for creating a profitable independent destination even if it’s supported by advertising. If you have a desire to create a video community, you’d be wise to use OPP (other people’s programming) and stick to the curating and community.

  • Revver (first site to share advertising revenue with creators). Revver, like YouTube, was designed not as a website but as a publisher/creator platform. It was perhaps too early to the space. YouTube and Facebook show that what matters most in a new industry is to get critical mass and leadership position. Profit comes later.

  • Veoh, now part of Qlipso, a social-content sharing company… down from earlier in 2010.

  • Metacafe seems to be returning to its low from last spring. It appears to be morphing into a shell for Hulu.

  • Blip.tv is holding its own… and most of its views are probably embedded elsewhere so not represented here.

  • FunnyOrDie isn’t trending significantly, but continues to be mercurial in traffic. One moment flooded with traffic for a new celebrity video, and otherwise mostly forgotten. Fortunately it seems well sponsored with entertainment advertisers, rather than paltry network ads.

  • Vimeo, with its focus on a creative and artistic community, is one of the few independent online-video sites doing quite well at attracting traffic.

To end on a sad note, “hyped Internet television startup” Joost is “spinning off” as an advertising network. So if you’re trying to make money in the online-video space, you’d better get a cool haircut and some teenage fans.

Intravenous Twitter Drip of Online-Video Enthusiasts

Without bookmarks, RSS or e-mails, there are a few sites I remember and visit randomly.  It’s usually because I’m bored or curious (but don’t know what I’m curious about). For instance, TechCrunch, Cheapskate, TheOnion, Google News, Yahoo Buzz. What are yours?

On TechCrunch I found an article about Blekko, a search engine that avoids spam by only indexing sites identified by people (like 2100 university sites). You use slashes to refine your search, so I tried Nalts and /date. That awakened me to a SocialTimes piece Megan O’Neill (Tel Aviv) curated a bunch of people and websites worth following on Twitter if you’re an online-video enthusiast. It’s quite handy, but I’m biased because I made the cut. 🙂

The Twitter accounts include ReelSEO’s Mark Robertson, GigaOM’s Ryan Lawler, Shape Shifting Zadi Diaz, as well as a bunch of people I consider “Friends” by a broad definition (meaning I have met them in person, I like them, and we share interests). Author Steve Garfield, Revisiond3’s Jim Louderback, Michael Buckley (WhatTheBuck), iJustine, Charles Trippy, Kassemg (the guy I know least among these). By a pure definition they’re not exactly friends, though. But isn’t the term “friend” changing because of Facebook’s use of the term?

Hey on that note, what’s a close friend? I’d consider a “close friend” someone you’ve known for a year or more, you’ve exchange meaningful information, and you know well and vice versa (meaning you each know your family/friends/significant others). For me, a friend isn’t competitive, they listen, and they share values. They can differ in many ways, but enjoy each other’s conversation and company. Most importantly, they forgive lapses in communication (something important to me because I’m spread thin and often vanish). I can think of dozens of people who are too frustrated by my intermittent communication to consider me a friend, and others who I can call after a long lapse and it’s like no time has passed.

Photo by Jim Davidson (Bucknick)

Anyway, Megan also assembled a nice collection of online-video stats and news websites (these are her words below). I’d suggest adding a few sites sites like ViralBlog, ReelSEOUrgo6667‘s stat site called Social Blade, and Renetto’s MyU2b).

  • Unleash Video Unleash Video is a video entertainment sharing website.  On their Twitter account they tweet about videos and news from their website, but they also tweet about general news in the online video space and they always have something interesting to share.
  • Web Series Today – If you enjoy web series then Web Series Today is definitely a must-follow.  Web Series Today tweets about the web’s top video series and is the best source for unfiltered web series information online.
  • Viral Video Chart – If you love being the first of your friends to know about the latest viral video hits then Viral Video Chart is the Tweeter to follow.  Viral Video Chart tweets about all the latest and most popular viral videos on the web.
  • Viral Viral Videos – Viral Viral Videos is also a great source, tweeting about viral videos as they go viral.
  • Web Video News – Finally, Web Video News is a great source for online and web video news, research and trends, compiling news from a variety of different sources across the web.

My list of linked sites is somewhat arbitrary and antiquated, but I hope to revise it. Please let me know what else you read for news about online video, and I’ll try to refresh the list with these and others!

Dead Video Sites Don’t Have Proper Funerals

Oh dear. Did I sleep through a Google Video death? It seems these video sites barely have the courtesy to send a “goodbye” card when they die. 

It took a while for me to realize TheDailyReel was RIP, and I just discovered this morning that Flix55 (the video-sharing site by a NYC television station) had vanished.

Now check out Google Video. It’s not quite dead, but I think I could fairly describe it as what I first advocated for Google: A video search engine (albiet not as intelligent as Mother Google or even YouTube results). It does allow you to find videos from other websites, and even play Yahoo videos without making you leave Google (good boy for allowing that Yahoo… goooood boy).

Alas Google’s vision, not unlike Knol, was to be a destination site. Where select creators were sharing advertising revenue, and Mighty Mouse episodes were playing on the destination site. When Google swallowed YouTube it was only time before the two merged or went different directions.

If Stupid Videos, Break or Metacafe die will someone please let me know? Next thing you know it someone will tell me eFoof died.

Here’s hoping YouTube remains solvent. I really don’t want to get that second job delivering pizza in Allentown.

The Attack of the Killer How-To Video Sites

Lately it’s “The Attack of the Killer How-To Videos Sites.” We’ve already seen ExpertVillage, Instructables, AOL’s How To, VideoJug, and of course YouTube’s How-To section.

While uploading on TubeMogul.com this morning, I noticed three more sites that have surfaced. Most of these models depend exclusively on advertising revenue. While that’s a nice interim model for targeted buys, I do see the potential for sites and creators to post modest fees for instructional videos.

If it was “iTunes” easy to buy a “how to” video, you’d probably pay a modest fee for “just-in-time” learning. Anything to avoid the instructional manual, attending a class or hiring a pro. Here are some examples:

  1. Sclipo.com Although it’s got a laughable web 2.0 name and brand, Slipo is somewhat unique. It’s more fo a social learning network for teaching through video & webcam. People can meet others of common interests, and engage in live, personalized webcam classes (members can schedule appointments, charge fees, and re-watch their live classes later for additional practice).
  2. HowCast.com HowCast is probably “the one to watch,” since it has recently signed distribution agreements with Blip.tv, Metacafe and Bebo. Those join a collection of distribution agreements with Myspace, YouTube, Verizon FiOS TV, Joost, and ROO. It doesn’t hurt that it’s founded by veterans from YouTube and 3 from Google. Howcast provides advertising revenue-sharing income for user-generated content and professional video.
  3. 5min.com 5 Minute is a place to find “short video solutions for practical questions,” and a place for people to share their knowledge. The idea behind 5min, of course, is to focus solutions that can be visually explained in no more than 5 minutes.

And if you don’t like what you see, find a free Web 2.0 platform and aggregate your own “how to” videos around some ridiculously niche topic. Or just create your very own revenue-producing “How To” video using Revver (see a video I made back in Sept. 2006). Better buy one of these coin counters (see video) to help sort your pennies.

While you’re at it, please create a “how to” video on attracting weary advertisers.

Pete Cashmore reviews some of the best “how to” video sites at Mashable.com, including SuTree.com (a site that aggregates them but isn’t working as of this writing).

Doritos Video Contest

doritos davideoSo there’s a galary of amateur videos (consumer-generated advertising) posted on Doritos’ UK website, including this classic Davideo hit. He’s the UK creator of the exploding Diet Pepsi Mentos girl, and one of my favorites in the use of abstract video animation (so be sure to rate it if “five sizzling chips” if you like it too).

It’s another agency produced flash site, so no direct links to the videos are provided, but it’s called “Just Can’t Wait.” So you have to go to the site, skip the intro, click “Just Can’t Wait” and vote. At least you don’t have to friggin’ register to vote. 

Dear agencies: when are we going to learn that it’s cost prohibitive and unnecessary to create a custom site with subpar video players? To its credit, Doritos also set up a YouTube channel that features “Just Can’t Wait,” but I’m not sure votes count there.

Here’s another brave entrant featuring a guy whose tongue burns off. Kinda gross (as reflected by the votes) but has the most views.

davideo doritos