One of the big stories from latest comScore Video Metrix press release is the emergence of the TV-show video portal, Hulu. According to Andrew Lipsman, comScore's Director of Industry Analysis, Hulu's rise in the charts speakes to a broader trend of marketing growth with professional-level video content. Will these trends also lead to a predicted next phase with video – the small-to-medium (SMB) business space?
Professional-grade video rising
The online video market has been dominated by user-generated content (UGC)." Says Lipsman. "We're now seeing some real growth with professional level content including videos from telelvision shows and on major broadcast sites, like Hulu and Fancast."
comScore's Video Metrix report for November 2008 shows the duration of the average online video viewed at Hulu was 11.9 minutes, far higher than any other video property in the top ten. It's also a wide gap between the reported average video viewing time this month of 3.1 minutes (up from 2.7 minutes at the beginning of the year). Lipsman says that the overall viewing time increase can be largely attributed to a growth in professional-level content, and largely from Hulu.
The trend is not just related to broadcast-television or cable-television shows, either. Lipsman also reports on an emergence of professional and semi-professional content being more heavily watched on mid-level sites, like Funny-or-Die.
"Its easy to forget that we're still really early in the stages of online video, so they're tending towards the two extremes." Says Lipsman. "The first phase is UGC, where anyone can do. As people are consuming so much media online, I think that tv-form content online is going to be a bigger and bigger trend."
And then there is the predicted next phase, or 3rd phase, which really is the 'in-between'. This can be sites like eHow, or The Huffington Post, or My RaganTV - where professional sites and blogs are building their own media libraries, and even including video content from their fellow industry professionals. People looking for quality-produced video, and especially that's business-oriented, will also especially be using the search engines to initially find this content, says Lipsman.
The SMB video portal idea
So comScore's latest data could suggest that the next big opportunity in video marketing could be the creation of a comprehensive video portal for the small-medium business (SMB) space. My belief is that there are several advantages this 3rd-wave video portal for SMBs, over the first wave (UGC) and 2nd wave (TV).
- A mid-size pool of contributors. The quantity of videos and account holders would be far less than UGC, yet far more than television portal sites. This balance could also lead to the best relevancy in search results, including authority-driven content.
- Quality control. This could be established through editorial reviews of all submitted content - similar to the original paid review model of Yahoo!'s Directory submission, which engendered high link popularity for substantiated relevancy. The editorial review prior to posting (or at least initial posting, based on it being a one-time submission, or a trusted feed) would provide both assurances to audiences and the search engines that the video content on the portal is what people are looking for, especially for their business and consumer goals.
- Community-building. Just like LinkedIn and Facebook have been very successful at building mid-level and professional-level communities through social networking, enough mid-level companies and people are producing professional and semi-professional video content to naturally include an active, intelligent community unto itself. This type of community could do much better than earlier video portal types. The UGC video communities can be boisterous and often very unprofessional. And, the TV show video portals aren't really built for communities altogether. According to Ross Fander of MediaPost, early stats show that people show up at TV-sites to watch videos, not to interact with others. Liz Gannes, columnist for TeeVee, reports that social features have been a hard sell for competitors like Hulu, Comcast's Fancast and Joost.
- Indepent and unique. An SMB video portal would also allow video professionals (including businesses with professional video), to rely on that portal to be the exclusive source of their video content (including a professional-grade media player and embeddable links to feature the player on their own company site). Compare that to TV portal sites, where none of their content sticks out as something you couldn't just easily find elsewhere.
- Leads. An SMB video portal could a much more professional presentation of the video content than the standard media player on a UGC site. Couple that with an audience looking to make business transactions rather than just be entertained, and you have a great network tool for both B2B and B2C purposes.
- Local targeting. An SMB video portal could also provide search queries based on geo-targetting and mapping. None of the Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) today have yet made their own business customers' video content show up in their own search results. Even Yellowbook, which has its own YouTube channel, doesn't optimize any of their customers' videos to show up for location-based searches. For businesses that rely on local customers, an SMB video portal would serve a greet need that other video portals either aren't providing or don't have the capabilities to.
Granted, there are some sites that have a good video portal examples for this type of audience – such as eHow.com, or even Bob Villa's website. What an SMB video portal could include is an aggregation of trusted, profesisonal video content from sites like these, independently submitted and reviewed video by other professionals, and even paid feed programs for automated inclusion of reviewed and approved partners. Look at it as what Yahoo! has been doing with its own paid inclusion and paid review program, but for video from SMBs.
The SMB video portal seems a likely, and eventually a very necessary, 3rd phase for online video. It could be the natural progression of where video translates into business revenue, balancing access with quality, with a real lead generation and monetization focus behind it. Hopefully that will be just opening for many more SMBs to take part in online video marketing and networking, and really bring a whole new revenue level to the already-growing video industry.