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Video News Succeeds Thanks to Mobile Devices and Social Networks

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Easy video uploading has created a compelling way for news organizations to access clips of breaking events. Sometimes, great sources upload their footage to Facebook or Twitter, where news organizations can spot it and get in touch with the creator. "Citizen journalism is dead, but there's that middle ground," explained Tyler Peterson, COO for NewsBeat Social, speaking at today's Streaming Media West conference in Huntington Beach, California. Accessing field reporters has never been easier: Just send them a direct message and get their participation.

Peterson's panel was on short—or snackable—videos which are big online, since they cater to the demands of mobile viewers and short attention spans. As conference attendees found out, short videos can pay off big. Portland, Oregon-based NewsBeat Social operates within Facebook and reaches an audience of millions.

"Every video we produce gets posted to our website," Peterson said. NewsBeat counts two million fans. Despite that, it's had a hard time attracting ads.

"We entered into a very chaotic market for pre-roll advertising," Peterson said. The current model requires high volume to attract advertisers, which makes it difficult for new entrants to gain traction. NewsBeat's solution has been to sell ads on a cost per view basis.

Since the company's videos are short, it tries to keep pre-rolls short, as well, working with agencies and brands to get 15-second pre-rolls. NewsBeat launched two years ago, before Facebook got serious about its own video efforts. NewsBeat uses an embeddable video player from Kaltura. That gives NewsBeat flexibility to work with different ad servers, Peterson said.  While pre-rolls are its biggest source of income, it also shows post-rolls.

"It'd be pretty short-sighted for us to only do one-minute video news within Facebook," Peterson said, explaining that NewsBeat has seen success with other models, such as stitching together news clips or creating a Tinder-style interface where people swipe left or right. "We do a higher-volume, lower-cost production model," Peterson said, so the company doesn't make a big financial bet on any particular story. Creating longer-form content means taking more of a bet.

Location-based advertising is a smart way to monetize video, but to succeed at it companies need their own app, Peterson said, to get location data. He added that he hasn't seen huge demand beyond basic geographies.

As new media news sites get smarter about attracting audiences and advertisers, the pressure increases on older media sources to catch up. Peterson doesn't think the next generation of viewers will look to sites like CNN.com for their news.

"It will be interesting to see what happens to legacy news folks," Peterson said. News organizations will have a hard time replacing the viewers they lose on TV.

Watch the full panel discussion below.


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