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Case Study: Taste of Home Gets a Taste of Video

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Editor's Note: This is a vendor-written case study. StreamingMedia.com accepts vendor-written case studies based upon their usefulness to our readers.

Taste of Home (TOH) is the sister site of AllRecipes.com, one of the Reader’s Digest Association’s lifestyle sites. As the web presence for Taste of Home magazine, the site is driven by a warm and friendly community and user submissions. The publication is a top 10 magazine owned by the Reader’s Digest Association with a circulation of 3.1 million. It was launched to invite user submissions, filter them, and publish a bimonthly magazine. Today, TOH has 34,000 recipes online.

Led by general manager Renee Jordan, the TOH site was shooting and publishing professional cooking videos each week but found itself unable to produce enough content to generate long visits or multiple return visits per week. Despite its extensive recipe collection, TOH had just 300 videos online. It was using an in-house player and serving about 500 streams a day—flat for a year.

The Special Sauce
As part of a video consultancy provided by Quantum Media Consultants of New York, TOH was introduced to the concept of video aggregation and curation. Simply put, the TOH staff could use its knowledge of cooking and food-related information to provide the "special sauce" that would separate its video from the rest of the web. After a review of vendors, Magnify.net was selected to provide the platform.

The July 10 launch date was aggressive, giving both the Magnify.net and TOH teams slightly less than 3 months to build a sophisticated integration. This included single sign-on (SSO), a completely seamless look and feel, CSS integration, XML search, and consolidated video and text on pages served by TOH.

TOH was able to create a custom, contextual video experience in which the resources of the web were sorted and organized into playlists that provided visitors with an easily navigable collection of videos.

The TOH team quickly gathered and added more than 2,358 videos, leading to about 18.64 million video-related page views. The growth in page views was tremendous, increasing by more than 360%. According to Jordan, this is a significant step in the evolution of magazine media. "This is what needs to happen in the real world of the Internet," she says in an article posted on VideoNuze.

Figure 1
Figure 1. The pie chart in the figure above shows the breakdown of Taste of Home video plays by type.

Here’s the data: TOH has doubled its video collection in 2 weeks, with more than 500 videos now available to visitors, and increased its video-related page views by 50%. TOH chose to build its video search, collection, and curation offering on the Magnify.net platform, a decision made after considerable research. "Aligning with Magnify.net to create a singular video space that features the best cooking and entertaining tips allows us to reach and involve our ever growing Taste of Home family in exciting new ways," says Jordan.

So what does this mean in the real world? The questions are clear: How does this break through the monetization barrier that has bedeviled user-generated video, and does this have a real-world impact on revenues for publishers such as TOH?

Well, first of all, if you go to the TOH website and look at some of its videos, you’ll find that it has integrated a sophisticated preroll opportunity into the user experience. TOH is not only mixing pro, visitor-contributed, and collected videos but also using preroll in a way that provides a mix of easily accessible content and a scalable ad model.

The Cost of Curated Video
What the TOH team learned was that it could effect a "blended" cost of content by mixing high-quality video shot in the TOH kitchen with gathered and collected content, and then mixing in user-submitted content. Here’s the way it looks:
—Created Content: The costs include talent, set, shooting, editing, uploading, storage, and delivery.
—Collected Content: The only cost is the time staff members spend selecting video. There are no storage, hosting, or serving costs.
—Contributed Content: Users upload videos, and the staff simply approves or rejects them. The cost is minimal.

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