D2DVD recently blogged about whether or not online video has some sort of value not based in money. While many of us equate popularity and views with value ,some of us might have forgotten about a great deal of other avenues that might be considered to have value for the creators. Sure retail sales tracking and ad revenue are valuable, but what else is there?
When talking about video views there are two pieces (so we're told) that are import to consider, who and how many. How many we know as views and is good for ad revenue, while who boils down to demographics. The demographics are where a true hidden value can come in. If those viewers are say, studio executives, commercial ad agencies, public relations or other content buyers that video could result in revenue from other projects which were spawned because of the original work. This would not be readily apparent when you look at YouTube and see that a video has a lowly 1500 views.
Another facet is simply exposure...publicity / Brand Value. When a film becomes popular on YouTube or another video sharing site people begin to talk about it. That means they will blog, write and generally point links to the video, the creators or related websites. This could be an extremely useful tool for the content creator when they want to find new work or get their name out in the industry. This is also valuable in SEO for search results and pagerank.
Another value add to online video is that it's persistent. You place it online and for the most part it remains there for some length of time unless the services it is on go under or it's deleted. It is a perpetual record of the creator's works and can lead others to other pieces that they have created thereby increasing their popularity all around.
I'm going to lump the next two together – Education and Experience. The library of online video serves as both a record of the creator's experience and their education. As time progresses and their videos become more complex, have better editing, writing or storytelling it becomes apparent through a chronological look at their body of work. Additionally, as it is all online, people can learn from the mistakes they made as well as discussions about the videos which sometimes have a fair amount of value in them in regards to technical issues and the like.
The reason I put them together is that as you create more and more video you not only gain valuable experience and show that you can work on your own but it also shows that you're learning from your past work and mistakes (we all make them, it's ok). The videos also serve as educational material for others who want to get into the online video market. By seeing what has come before they can determine what works and does not, what should be done and what shouldn't. This gives them a leg up in their beginning if they're wise enough to use it.
Finally, there's the networking value or the social value. You create a video you put it online at multiple sites and you end up meeting new people. These people either become fans of your work and strive to see more of it in various ways by supporting you or they become involved in future endeavors or present projects to work on. That means that you might not only increase your fanbase but you'll also find new business partners and contacts so that even if they don't bring you any projects you might be able to bring them and their particular skills in on one of your future projects without having to go on a lengthy search for the right individual.
Overall there's most likely more intangible value for online video creators than actual tangible value. Sure the one might lead to the other and mean more money in your pocket or it might simply mean you have a contact list close to bursting with fans, friends and colleagues so that when your next project is ready to go you won't need to spend as much time getting the project going or marketing it when it's done. That's a definite win in any industry.