Video Insider: How Can Independent Video Producers Compete In The Super-Premium Era?
How Can Independent Video Producers Compete In The Super-Premium Era? by Lewis Rothkopf , Thursday, April 23, 2009
There's a great amount of buzz about " TV Everywhere" -- everywhere! And while many consumers will be thrilled to have access to the video content they pay to see at home -- everywhere -- independent content producers have good reason to worry about the "big boys" moving in on their turf. After all, wasn't the vacuum created by the lack of legal super-premium content the reason for the great success of independent video over the last four years?
It's true that independent video filled an important void for those looking to watch something interesting during their lunch hour (or "other" time), but who weren't interested in (insert-clichéd viral -video reference here). Yes, the fact that quality independent video took off was due in large part to a lack of serious competition, but also because it was engaging, well-produced and often compelling.
Now, those independent producers face an uphill battle in holding onto and growing their audience. They'll be battling with some of the very best content in existence for very limited consumer attention spans. Because lunch hours (and even "other" time) are only so long, even compelling content isn't enough anymore. To stay in the game, independent producers must assign equal importance to the editorial and business sides of their ventures:
1) Compete on quality. There's simply no excuse for anything other than professional-looking video. Consumers will offer no forgiveness for something that looks like my school play, circa 1986. And of course, the content itself needs to be special. Use real talent and scout real locations -- or better yet, just make it look as if you did.
2) Compete on price. Although nothing's been made official yet, it sure is starting to sound as though there will be a consumer cost element to super-premium content, either out-of-pocket or as part of a home subscription. My guess is the cost will be reasonable and worth it. But free outweighs reasonable, or at least competes with it. If you do decide to give the content away, your venture needs to be paid for it somehow. Which brings us to...
3) Compete on advertiser-friendliness. To generate ad revenue, it's no longer enough to offer work-friendly content, or even aggregate a reasonable amount of eyeballs. There is so much video inventory available today that agencies are now bringing traditional targeting criteria online -- including psychographics. Yes, there will continue to be reach or "run of site" buys, but an increasing number of RFPs are looking for a specific market segment: be it early adopters, Luddites, environmentalists, skeptics -- the list goes on. When planning your content, keep in mind that you'll need to attract a unique audience -- not just "views."
Lastly, if you plan to charge a higher ad CPM than the average for your category, be prepared with a strong rationale for why. Agencies are increasingly exerting price pressure, so producers will want to make a strong case for why their content and audience mix commands a premium price.
It is exciting to see the Internet become a distribution point for independent, premium and, increasingly, super-premium content. To stay relevant, producers will need to ensure that their offering is compelling from both a content and business standpoint.
Lewis Rothkopf is vice president of network development at BrightRoll, charged with building strategic partnerships with the Web's top branded publishers. Prior to joining BrightRoll, Lewis was head of distribution for the National Broadband Company, NBC Universal's digital video syndication business.
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