Giant Web 2.0 Lies
So the big question is, has the company made any money as a direct or indirect result of its online video exposure? In six months, BlendTec has increased direct-to-consumer sales almost fivefold. They're also making money from from the ad revenue on their videos. They are now hosting videos on Revver as well, and the Old Spice ad at the end of their videos is surely putting a bit of change in their pocket.Selling a $400 blender online became a lot easier because BlendTec was open and honest with the story that they told, and they showed the dramatically different features of the product in a fun, interactive way. The power of participation is obvious in their success. They take user-submitted requests on what to blend, and there are ongoing conversations on their blog and around the web about BlendTec blenders. Next time someone says that a traditional business can’t make money online, ask them if they would like to pay to watch someone blend an iPod.
Podcasting is dead!
The demise of podcasting is greatly exaggerated, probably due in part to the fact that there are about 50 different names to describe this still fairly new medium. But whether you have heard it called podcasting, vidcasting, vlogging, netcasts, online channels, video blogging, or vodcasting, they are all basically the same thing. To put it in a nutshell, a video podcast is a video file with an RSS feed. This means that I can subscribe to an RSS feed and receive notification of new videos as they become available and even have them automatically downloaded to my computer or mobile device.
So how do we know that video podcasting isn’t dead or dying? With the advent of Web 2.0, user-generated video sharing websites like YouTube, Revver, Google Video, MSN Soapbox, Blip.tv, and more than 60 other similar sites, there are millions of people creating, uploading, and sharing videos. There has also been a surge of resources designed specifically for video podcasters from the longstanding iTunes podcast aggregator, and even an annual awards show specifically for video podcasts called the Vloggies. Even the big boys are involved: Microsoft, Ford, and a slew of other Fortune 500 companies are creating video podcasts.
So what are some of the success stories that have emerged? The traditional TV model of advertising money supporting a show seems to be one of the best ways for podcasters to make money right now. Robert Scoble’s technology podcast is sponsored by Seagate, along with quite a few other shows at PodTech.net. ZeFrank’s The Show ran for one year without a sponsor, and now that the first anniversary has past, his pre-recorded content is being sponsored by the beverage company Dewar’s. Imagine if an entire season of Seinfeld had been shown commercial-free, and then they decided to put ads on the syndicated reruns. These are the interesting scenarios that video podcasts are generating. Rocketboom is reported to have made $250,000 in 2006, and Ask A Ninja is rumored to have received a $300,000 signing bonus and 60% of all ad revenue sales from Federated Media for 2007. Not too shabby for two guys with a camera and an internet connection. The beauty of video podcasting as it relates to Web 2.0 is that you can get involved. Whether you are an individual with a passion, a small business with new ideas, or a big company with information to share, you are all on the same playing field. Video podcasting is here to stay, and you can join the fun. Find something interesting to share, record it, and post it online.
I can’t find relevant videos online!
The wealth of information on the web has always made it difficult to find exactly what you are looking for in a sea of useless content. Most of us who spend time online have learned to use search engines to our advantage. We know what keywords to use and how to work the system to find the needle of information in the haystack we call the internet. The initial phases of user-generated content have allowed for masses of videos to be displayed online, but user-generated also meant that the users categorized their own videos. The first versions of user-generated video search relied upon tags and keywords that would help to define what the video was about. So how do we find what we are looking for when users manipulate keywords, and the definitions of terms vary from person to person?
The next generation of video search comes from several unexpected locations. Thirty-year-old military technology, video preview walls, and the old-school TV Guide are changing how we search video now and in the near future. One of the most interesting options presented is being put out by Podzinger, which uses an approach based on a former military technology from parent company BBN technologies. Voice recognition software powers a unique video search engine for videos. Not only does it search metadata, but it actually searches the audio files and translates that data to searchable text. Once you find the keywords in your search, it will display the exact point in the video that contains your search query. No longer are you locked into the keywords that users have tagged onto the video; you can search the transcript of the audio and find the exact words that people are speaking.
Searching for video using only text has always been an issue—how do you describe a 20-minute video with two words in a search box? Blinkx has figured out how to give a visual representation to text searches for video. Type in a keyword or two and you are served up a wall of video clips that relate to those keywords. You can watch a few seconds of each clip and find out which one fits your search. You can also embed this video search wall into your blog and share visual video searches.
We are all familiar with the ubiquitous magazine that inhabits a spot on the coffee table next to the remote controls, and at some point in our lives we have leafed through days of programming to find out when Mystery Science Theater 3000 was playing. (Usually after midnight, as I recall.) The format for the TV Guide has spilled over onto the web and has packed on some fabulous interactivity with an interactive online guide and search engine from MeeVee. I plug in my zip code and select my local TV provider, and I can see an online channel guide for traditional TV. But then I can also select my favorite shows, actors, and genres to see selected content from around the web. It will even let me play the clip within the MeeVee tool and provide other relevant suggestions for both TV and the web. A quick check mark beside Black Adder shows a brief clip on MetaCafe, and a check mark beside The Colbert Report shows the local channel and time for the show. Who says that I can‘t find what I want to see?