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11 Things I Love (and Hate) About Online Video Communities

Jose Castillo will be discussing his love-hate relationship with user-generated video with representatives from Motionbox, Google, Revver, and Current TV Tuesday afternoon at Streaming Media West. Click here for details on the session.

When anybody spends $1.65 billion on anything, like Google just did to buy YouTube, you know it’s big. In fact, there’s nothing bigger on the web right now than user-generated video. But big doesn’t always mean good, and there’s plenty to hate as well as love about online video communities.

1. You can make money!
I love to see new media companies making money, and apparently so do most people that want to stay in this business. The ad supported revenue model is popular right now with companies like Revver, which basically attaches a commercial at the end of the video you watch. The more people that watch your clip, the more money you (and Revver) make. Others, like YouTube and Sharkle, are getting paid by advertisers to build custom content-creation contests. Consumers submit their videos and the best one wins. Converse has been using this strategy for years at www.conversegallery.com, and who knows how much they have saved on producing multimillion-dollar TV spots by getting their brand advocates to do it for them.

2. Free is the new standard
I love the freewheeling, open-source nature of business right now, but I can see the writing on the wall. Someone has to pay for bandwidth, hosting, etc. The nice thing is that free content delivery systems, like these user-generated communities, have opened up a whole new area for revenue exploration. Those who too quickly attack the open-source movement should realize we have found this new ground because it has been free. I love free, and I know we can find ways to support it.

3. Search is very personal
I love funny videos about Mentos and Diet Coke rockets. I hate videos that are tagged with "mentos," "diet coke," and "rocket" but have absolutely nothing to do with soda and candy-fueled projectiles. Tags are great, and they can help us sort out information and find out exactly what we want. But while "mentos" means one thing to you, it may mean something different to me. Search is personal, and we need to find better ways to customize searching for each of us.

4. There are too many optionsI love free videos, and so do millions of other people, but trying to find out which service will be on top net week is impossible. When I wrote this article there were more than 62 online video-sharing communities, each one claiming to be different from all the rest. "We offer online, in-browser editing, we can make you money, we have links to social networking sites, we can upload directly to your blog, etc." Some of these are dramatically different options and some are just fluff, but they all are striving to find people to use and share their services. Ultimately the best will find its way to the top and whether it’s the result of ease of use or functionality, only a few will last.

5. It forces old media to change
I love change. It’s sometimes frustrating, but it’s a fact of life in business—change or die. With lots of young, talented, caffeine-filled programmers cranking out daily updates, the landscape has changed to favor the small and quick. YouTube is constantly changing its user interface and adding social networking features. This constant "beta" status allows for rapid response to what is working and what isn’t. With an army of ravenous users offering feedback, it makes for a real-world build, test, and implement model. The thing I love about this is that the big guys are moving to make changes as well. When NBC has user-generated promos running for The Office and ABC says that their biggest competition is www.askaninja.com, you know they are taking this revolution seriously.

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